“Tell Me I’m Alive” – All Time Low Review
Written by wmscweb on March 29, 2023
By Lara Ziccardi
All Time Low released their ninth studio album, Tell Me I’m Alive, on March 17th, 2023, since their 2020 release, Wake Up, Sunshine.
All Time Low is most known for its 2006 hit, “Dear Maria, Count Me In.” Forming in Towson, Maryland, in 2003, they’ve been in the music scene from when they were teens. Since then, their music has grown and evolved but never seen to forget their pop-punk roots.
While All Time Low has been experimenting with a more mature sound, unlike their earlier stuff that has more of a young, pop-punk edge, their newer sound has evolved. Even though they are incorporating more unique sounds and experimenting, the best part is that it still sounds like them.
As a long-time All Time Low fan, I didn’t know what to exactly expect from this new album. Wake Up, Sunshine is a summer staple in my playlist, and I had a feeling Tell Me I’m Alive would follow in its footsteps into becoming a spring mainstay for me.
The lyrics of this new album are absolutely well-written and seem to speak from the soul. This album feels different and personal, like it was written from the heart. A key factor I pointed out when listening to it is that it seems to tackle more personal themes than the others. Tell Me I’m Alive confronts drug abuse, isolation, and loneliness. According to Kerrang!, “All Time Low tells the tale of a character ‘who is obsessed with the quest for connection in a world that’ll often break your heart.’” This album makes my heart wrench but also makes me dance and sing. Music is all about feeling, and Tell Me I’m Alive helped me feel alive.
“The Sound of Letting Go,” which I played on the album’s release day for our flagship morning show, The Morning Buzz, is the recipe for a perfect pop-punk song. It has simple yet genius lyrics, catchy riffs, and a message of letting go of all that no longer serves you. Not only that, this song (and many others on the album) is an earworm that just moves into a part of your brain and doesn’t leave. “The Other Side,” along with “English Blood // American Heartbreak” and “Kill Ur Vibe,” follows the same vibe of high-energy, catchy pop punk.
While there’s the catchy pop-punk sound All Time Low rocks, this album seems to conquer topics like drugs and drug abuse and the emotions behind them. “Are You There?” includes lyrics like, “Where do you turn when the drugs run out / And it’s 3 AM, and you’re comin’ down? / All your friends are asleep ’cause they’re all okay /And you need someone, but you don’t wanna say / Are you there?”
In “Modern Love,” the band seems to even conque drug use in the dating world, “You’re obsessed with drugs and dating / Modern love’s too complicated.” “Calm Down” is a beautifully written song that talks about anxiety and feeling alone in a sad world. In this song, they also touch upon using substances to escape reality, “In a bad, bad mood, maybe I should take a hit about it.” Subtly in “Sleepwalking,” they talk about that same feeling of that desperation for escape, “Medicate ’til my brain goes numb / Like a dream where your feet won’t run.”
Their first single off this album, “Sleepwalking,” sounds like an 80s pop song that got put through a 2000s pop-punk slot machine in the best way possible. It was then decorated with some of their earlier albums, Don’t Panic, and their 2020 album, Wake Up, Sunshine. Followed by “Tell Me I’m Alive,” “Modern Love” was the third single. The song follows a similar vibe to “Sleepwalking,” channeling their 2012 album, Don’t Panic. “The Way You Miss Me” would also fall into this same category of the Frankeinsein of 80s pop and 2000s pop-punk.
Some songs featured on the album embody an “electronic-glazed pop-rock.” Much like in their 2017 release, Last Young Renegade, a common theme from then until now is them playing around with electronic-sounding dance music. From Young Renegades, the primary song that channels this energy is “Dirty Laundry.” In Tell Me I’m Alive, “New Religion (feat. Teddy Swims)” makes me want just to get up and dance. I could imagine bars and clubs playing it, but let’s be honest, they’re not that cool to play it.
The use of piano and synth sounds new to Tell Me I’m Alive. We can hear the piano in the title (and opening) track of the album, “Tell Me I’m Alive,” along with their break-up-sounding song, “I’d Be Fine (If I Never Saw You Again),” among many others. With “I’d Be Fine,” the opening has a series of piano chords, then builds up into something faster-paced. “I’d Be Fine” and “Calm Down” are emotional songs that take you on a beautiful yet sad journey. Their last track, “Lost Along The Way,” is the perfect way to wrap up this story of loss and isolation from a confused soul. While the entire song is written and composed incredibly, the first few bars speak to me, “Can we start this record over? Can we paint with different colors? Can we dig the garden up and start again?”
Tell Me I’m Alive brings the listener on a journey through a sad, lonely world seen through the narrator’s eyes. This album feels personal like it was written from the heart and the soul, and it feels special for that reason. It’s like I can feel the emotion behind these songs and their lyrics. This record was written in a way that makes my heart ache but makes me feel like I have a shoulder to cry on, with that shoulder being this record. All Time Low hit this record out of the park and made my past feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and struggles feel validated.
Photo from Amazon Music.