Mediocrity. It’s a word, sadly, that gets thrown around and used quite a bit more than it should when it comes to music. For every great band out that, there are at least a hundred more that sound similar, but lack that panache (and talent) that is, well usually, required to succeed. It is on that point that I introduce to you Baltimore, Maryland’s very own All Time Low. I’m not even going to take the far too obvious route of making a pun out of the name of this band, so I’ll just let it speak for itself. All. Time. Low. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
They’re coming forth on this high of a platform thanks to the guys over at Hopeless/Sub City Records, and this is their first release since putting out their iffy debut full-length The Party Scene on Emerald Moon Records. One of the better things I can say about this release is that it’s short; with 7 songs that don’t drag on for much longer than they should, the length at least works. But with the content though, things get a little fuzzy.
Zooming in on the coattails of Fall Out Boy and The Academy Is…, All Time Low try so desperately on Put Up Or Shut Up to emulate that all-too popular pop-punk sound to the point that the end product ends up being not all that, well, fun. It’s like they’re obviously not good enough to take themselves seriously, but they’re still trying far too hard to be ‘real’ musicians; when in all actuality at their best they’re nothing more than a group of guys thrashing out uninspired, sugary pop-punk.
I mean, with song titles like “The Girl’s A Straight-Up Hustler,” and “Coffee Shop Soundtrack,” who do these guys think they’re fooling? At the beginning of virtually every song, I kept waiting to hear “Am I more than you bargained for yet? Ohh…“; I’m not even kidding. It’s not that it’s necessarily all bad; it’s just blatantly uninspired, and wreaking of the fact that they’re trying just way too darn hard to make a style of music that should come easier. The first six tracks follow this pattern strongly, and the only silver lining on this disc is the closing number “Lullabies.” It’s actually listen able, and sadly feels like more of a fluke, as opposed to what the group is truly capable of.
If you worship at the altar of The Academy Is…, and the like, All Time Low just might appeal enough to you to be enjoyable, but if you’re up in the air on the genre, this record is most definitely not a good idea.