All Time Low has been very busy in the last few years. In 2017, the band released their Last Young Renegade album, followed by two singles in 2018, and finally a re-recording of their 2009 album Nothing Personal for the album’s ten year anniversary in 2019. During this time, the band also embarked on multiple tours, spanning almost the entirety of the last three years. After all that, All Time Low did not take a break or slow down at all. Instead, they released their brand new album Wake Up, Sunshine on April 3, 2020. Originally there was concern over whether or not the band would delay the release of their eighth album due to coronavirus. However, the band shut down the possibility of delaying the release in favor of giving fans something to look forward to and enjoy during these difficult times. In addition, the band actually released more singles than originally planned before the album dropped, reaching a total of six singles (tracks one through six on the album) before April 3. Leading up to and following the big day, All Time Low increased their interaction with fans via social media, organized livestream happy hours and album release parties, and started social media challenges involving rapping a verse in one of their songs and creating covers of songs on the new album. Despite the craziness happening in the world, the band has done their best to raise spirits and make the most of their remote album release. Let’s look at each track on the album one by one.
1. “Some Kind Of Disaster”
When All Time Low released the first single off the album in January, I wrote an article about the song and how the band introduced the new era. You can find that article here. To sum up my previous article, the new song is incredible and a great first single for a new era of music. In addition, to the lyrics and the instrumentation, the music video is also wonderful. After listening to the entire album, “Some Kind Of Disaster” is the perfect opening track, starting off the album with an energetic tune that sets the stage for the overall sound of Wake Up, Sunshine.
2. “Sleeping In”
Opening with a futuristic, synthesized riff with faint drums behind it before transitioning into heavy drums, bass, and prominent vocals, “Sleeping In” maintains the energy introduced in “Some Kind Of Disaster” but creates a much more lighthearted vibe with its playful lyrics. The verses are sung with attitude, adorned with tasteful touches of synthesized vocals, and the pre-chorus slows down slightly before breaking out into a fast-paced chorus that elicits body-thrashing and head-banging. The guitar solo following the chorus is whiny in the best way, with each note melting into the next. It’s impossible to not dance to this song, and you’ll find yourself singing the catchy lyrics all the time. I can imagine that this song will be a high-energy performance that really gets the crowd going once live shows start up again.
3. “Getaway Green”
This song begins with more of a rock feel, as loud guitar and drums take center stage. This lasts for only a few seconds before the instrumentation dies out and Gaskarth’s vocals shine through, a slight gravel in his voice pulling you into every line. The verse leads into a smooth, catchy pre-chorus that ends with Gaskarth crooning a synthesized “What could I do?” before blasting into the intense chorus. There is a slightly indifferent undertone to the vocals, complementing the clever lyrics that capture the feeling of a fleeting, intense relationship. Although the tempo feels slightly slower than the two previous songs, this track keeps the energy high with it’s rock roots. This song demonstrates the more alt-rock side of All Time Low’s signature pop-punk sound, showcasing their musical talents and giving the band a genuine, old-school feel. This song had been played live at a few shows prior to the release of the tracklist for the album, and fans were anxious to see if it would appear on the album at all. After discovering that it was indeed on the album, it was even more surprising when the studio version of “Getaway Green” was released as a single nearly three weeks before Wake Up, Sunshine after major demand from fans.
4. “Melancholy Kaleidoscope”
When this single was first released, I was not a fan. I’m really big on lyrics and if you’re looking for lyrics that make sense or tell a story… this song is not for you. However, after glossing over the questionable lyrical decisions, the song grew on me immensely the more that I listened to it. “Melancholy Kaleidoscope” picks up the pace following “Getaway Green” but keeps the authentic rock ‘n roll feel that it introduced. The guitar riff is fast-paced and incredibly impressive, the drums are distinguished throughout the song, and the punchy bass during the choruses is prominent without being distracting. Despite my overall distaste for the lyrics, the addition of the spoken “We now return to our regularly scheduled program,” after the second verse is a unique and fun touch added to the song. “Melancholy Kaleidoscope” is another great song to dance to, but is middle-of-the-pack for me in my ranking of all the tracks on Wake Up, Sunshine.
5. “Trouble Is”
When I heard this song for the first time, I immediately thought of Blink-182. The style of the verses is reminiscent of Blink-182’s signature sound, which isn’t surprising considering All Time Low and it’s members have worked closely with members of Blink-182. Additionally, All Time Low was originally a cover band of classic pop-punk music and is heavily influenced by bands similar to and including Blink-182. I’m not personally a fan of Blink-182 for the most part, so the verses aren’t the best parts of the song, but the chorus is one of my favorite parts of any song on the album. Overall, there’s nothing particularly noteable about “Trouble Is” and it’s not high on my list of songs from Wake Up, Sunshine, but the chorus is unbelievably good and will definitely end up stuck in your head.
6. “Wake Up, Sunshine”
At track number 6, we reach the highly anticipated title track. Similarly to how I feel about “Future Hearts/Old Scars” on the Future Hearts album, this title track does not live up to the hype it gathered when the name of the album was revealed. It’s my personal philosophy that albums should never share a name with a song title, and in this case, the phrase “wake up, sunshine” should have been left alone to just title the album. As much as I want to love “Wake Up, Sunshine,” there’s something about the song that’s not quite right. The vocals lack the energetic drive that the lyrics require and the instrumentation is muted. That being said, there is no bad song on Wake Up, Sunshine, and this song has it’s pros. The chorus is catchy and the song is upbeat, so you’ll find yourself nodding along and tapping your toes. The bridge is very interesting, introducing a soft, relaxed vibe and somewhat muffled sound to the song before building back up to the chorus.
7. “Monsters” feat. blackbear
Hands down, no questions asked, without a doubt, “Monsters” is my favorite track off of Wake Up, Sunshine and possibly one of my all-time favorites from the band in general. The first time I heard this song, I was laying in bed on the morning that the album was released, and as soon as the song started I was covered in goosebumps and could not stop smiling. The tone of the guitar in the opening chorus, the roughness and rasp in Gaskarth’s voice, the driving, purposeful guitar and sliding bass note leading into the first verse… what’s not to like? (And that’s only in the first 15 seconds!) The bass line is heavy and pronounced, setting the tone of the song, while the vocals are modulated just enough to emulate the sound of singing into an old microphone. Every beat, note, and lyric in “Monsters” sounds determined and driven, keeping the song moving despite the empty heaviness of the verses. The lyrics are simple and straightforward but impactful, and the chorus allows Gaskarth to show off his impressive vocal talent.
I’m not a huge fan of rap, but I am a fan of blackbear (you’re probably lying if you say you think “hot girl bummer” isn’t a bop), and this feature is so perfect. In my opinion, features are risky and can make or break a song, especially when they cross genres. However, blackbear’s verse in “Monsters” fits amazingly well with the song and feels natural, unlike some features which seem forced and publicity driven. blackbear’s voice and general style fit very well with All Time Low’s pop-punk sound, and the rap also helps to create energy and flow in the otherwise slower, darker song. In addition to my rave reviews of the song itself, the accompanying lyric video is also incredible. The art style is amazing and reminds me strongly of Don’t Panic!. The fun, cartoony video is the perfect addition to an already perfect tune. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this song in the past week, and I could watch the video and listen to the song on repeat forever.
8. “Pretty Venom (Interlude)”
Following “Monsters” is no easy task, especially in the eyes of a critic like me who adores that song, but this track manages to impress almost as much. It has a completely different sound compared to the rest of the album, and is a new vibe for the band overall. I hope we get more of this sound from All Time Low in the future. Since it is the only song on the album with it’s unique sound, it immediately stands out from the rest of the album for all the right reasons. The whole song is hushed and fuzzy, which conveys an overwhelmingly despondent and heartbroken tone. There isn’t any huge swell in volume or energy anywhere throughout the tune, which is an interesting change from the usual structure of songs. Even though the song is quiet and slow, so much pain and emotion is exuded. Listening to this song is very grounding, and honestly makes me want to cry. Even if you can’t directly relate to the story told by the lyrics, it’s the kind of song that envelops you in the hurt and regret and sadness anyway. “Pretty Venom (Interlude)” is the perfect song to break up the album at it’s halfway point, as implied by it’s fitting title.
9. “Favorite Place” feat. The Band CAMINO
I desperately want to like this song, and I do, right up until the second verse when The Band CAMINO makes their debut. I have never listened to The Band CAMINO before and I’d probably enjoy their music on it’s own, but their indie, nasally vocals do not fit with All Time Low’s sound. I read that when Alex wrote this song, he thought it sounded like a The Band CAMINO song and asked them to collaborate because of that, so the feature was not forced or premeditated, but I have to say that I disagree with Alex on this one. “Favorite Place” would be much higher on my ranking of songs from Wake Up, Sunshine without the feature. However, as I previously mentioned, the song is good. The tune starts with just drums before another quick, skillful guitar riff takes over. Everything calms down for the verse, before opening into a big chorus that is perfect for belting out on car rides. The lyrics are one of my favorite parts of this song, telling a sweet but tragic story of a longing lover chasing after a noncommittal partner. I think the lyrics are beautiful and touching, and I like that the story is cohesive and clear throughout the song.
This song wastes no time and cuts immediately to the chase, opening with vocals right off the bat. The verse vocals are backed by pleasantly disjointed notes on a guitar. The instrumentation slowly builds up during the verse and pre-chorus before Gaskarth’s vocals kick off a powerful chorus. Try not to headbang when the instruments kick in during the chorus, I dare you. “Safe” is a classic feel-good song with a moderate tempo, shifting energy levels that create a good flow throughout the tune, and catchy lyrics. Despite my lack of commentary on the track, “Safe” is actually one of my favorite songs on Wake Up, Sunshine.
11. “January Gloom (Season, Pt. 1)
Track 11 is my least favorite song on the album, and I knew it would be from the moment I first listened to it. There’s a clunky feel to the verses, and the lyrics are too simple and literal for my liking. The chorus is better, much less severe and choppy than the verses. There’s a pretty guitar run during the first chorus, and the vocals are soft and fluid. The later choruses have more instrumentation, but maintain the same relaxed tone. The highlight of the song is definitely the bridge, full of passion and earnest vocals and the best lyrics on the track. Overall, the song feels heavy and unpolished, but the bridge is worth the wait.
If I could keep the first 25 seconds of this song repeat, I would. Actually, I’m infatuated with both verses of “Clumsy.” It’s the kind of love that can’t be put into words. I have no idea how to express what exactly it is I’m drawn to; maybe it’s the stunning clarity of the vocals and the beautiful tone of the guitar combined with the poetic lyrics. It could also be related to the fact that I frequently discuss how Gaskarth is one of the most underrated alternative vocalists, and this song emphasizes everything I love about his voice and pronunciation. The verses showcase his unique sound which is definitely a part of why I love them so much. While the verses are striking and captivating, there’s something about the chorus that feels disconnected from the rest of the song. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly catchy, but it just doesn’t compare to the verses. “Clumsy” is extremely high-energy overall with the exception of the bridge, which does a nice job of breaking up the song and gives you a chance to catch your breath from all the dancing you’ll be doing while listening to this song.
13. “Glitter & Crimson”
Take one look at Alex’s Twitter and I think you’ll be able to tell that this is probably his favorite song on the album. Regardless of if it’s his favorite, he confirmed that it’s the song he’s most excited to play live. “Glitter & Crimson” has a longer instrumental intro than most of the other songs on the album, which sets the subdued tone for the song nicely before the vocals chime in. The aspect of this song that I like the most and find myself focussing on is the lyrics. The lyrics are incredibly expressive and evoke a wide range of emotions: in the verses, there is a kind of contemplative, peaceful sadness, while in the verses a more desperate, longing hope tinged with affection is conveyed. The lyrics are touching throughout the entire song, and the bridge is no exception. The bridge in “Glitter & Crimson” is powerful and passionate, the embodiment of raw and real. You can hear the desperation of clinging onto a last hope and wanting something so badly in Gaskarth’s voice. There is also an overarching nostalgic vibe present in the song, nostalgia for something you can’t quite place. To sum it up, “Glitter & Crimson” makes you feel all the feels. It’s the kind of song best listened to late at night, headphones in and lights off, just taking it all in and riding that emotional rollercoaster.
14. “Summer Daze (Seasons, Pt. 2)
Significantly better than its counterpart “January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1),” track 14 is a carefree, upbeat tune that lightens the mood following “Glitter & Crimson.” The opening guitar riff grabs your attention while the drums and bass keep the beat going during the verse. The lyrics are flirty and fun, sung with attitude and emotion. Each word flows into the next before abruptly cutting off at the end of a line. I’m looking forward to listening to “Summer Daze (Seasons, Pt. 2)” as summer comes to a close and I look back on all the memories I’ve made in that time.
15. “Basement Noise”
I wasn’t initially a fan of “Basement Noise,” but it’s grown on me the more I listen to the album. Regardless of my personal opinions on the final track, it’s extremely emotional and important to the band and many fans, especially those who have been following the band since they began making music. I can appreciate the sentiment and can feel the significance of the song throughout its entirety. That being said, I do really enjoy this tune now that I’ve had a chance to reflect on it and understand it more deeply. The lyrics in this song tell a beautiful story of taking risks, overcoming self-doubt, defying the odds, and being appreciative of what you have and where your roots are. Even if you’re not a member of a now-famous band, I think the overall message of the song is very relatable and humbling. I like that the album closes on a slower, thoughtful note. It seems fitting for a final track to be a look back at where it all began. The band has mentioned that they tried moving “Basement Noise” around on the tracklist and always found that it made the most sense as the last song, and I completely agree. I can’t picture this song falling anywhere else on the Wake Up, Sunshine tracklist.
Really the only bad thing I have to say about Wake Up, Sunshine is that none of the songs on the album are long enough. I mean, only three minutes each, seriously? That being said, the album is 15 songs, which is mind-blowing in a time when most albums are considered long if they contain 11 or 12 tracks. There is not a single song I would cut from the album, so all 15 songs deserved to make the cut. The overall vibe of the album is so bright and energetic, which perfectly fits the album’s title, especially when combined with the sunshiney yellow imagery provided by the album cover and lyric videos. I can’t wait to blast this album in the car with the windows down while driving along the beach this summer. If you’re looking for a feel-good alt-pop album that’s perfect for dancing, Wake Up, Sunshine is the perfect album for you. You can listen to Wake Up, Sunshine and the rest of All Time Low’s discography on Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube, in addition to following the band on Instagram and Twitter.
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