An album full of pop punk the way it used to be.
You wouldn’t be crazy if you picked up the latest release from This Time Next Year and thought you were listening to an album from the back catalogue of New Found Glory circa 2000. Just look at the linear notes for the album and the uncanny resemblance is made clearer by the fact that New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert produced the album and Paul Miner (who also worked with NFG) engineered it. Drop Out Of Life is an album made in 2011 that harks back to the late 90’s and early 00’s when the formula for pop punk didn’t include auto tuners and record label production teams.
Drop Out Of Life is an album made up of 11 feel good pop punk tracks, the kind that ensure you cant sit still while they are playing and get stuck in your head long after the album is finished. Vocalist Pete Dowdalls describes the album as the band’s way of “encouraging people to quit whatever brings them down in life and go found out what it is they love” and this is a theme and topic present right from the get go.
The opening (and title) track, ‘Drop Out Of Life’ immediately highlights how much bigger the bands sound has gotten this time around, in comparison to their 2009 debut full length Road Maps And Heart Attacks. The track switches through a number distinct tempos. The majority of the track is filled with light bouncy instrument lines that carry Dowdalls’ melodic vocals effortlessly. Guitarist Brad Wiseman’s deeper, more gruff secondary vocals provide a nice contrast and it is clear this will be utilized right throughout the album. The third verse of the track is made up of melodic guitar lines carried by simple drums and slowed down vocals before heading into a chaotic, quick paced section with screams which leads into gang chants.
‘Living Hell’ opens with down tuned, scratchy guitars before crashing drums and frenzied string lines lead the vocals in. Simple instruments carry the verses leaving Dowdalls’ vocals almost standing alone, highlighting how perfect the sound and dynamic of his vocals are for the genre. The chorus of the track, just like many of the others on the album, is bigger, more chaotic and upbeat. Right throughout the album every song presents another upbeat, catchy as hell chorus, laden with up beat bouncy instruments and catchy as hell hooks and melodies that will engrain themselves on your brain.
‘Last Call’ a track that resonates early All Time Low (if you can remember the way the band sounded in it’s early days) and ‘Modern Day Love Story’ highlight the emotion found in TTNY’s song writing while conveying it with an attitude and a spunk that makes you want to dance through their misery. While both songs have their own distinct sound and feeling they are both perfect examples of the heart on your sleeve, DIY style that This Time Next Year have adopted, and worked at perfecting, right throughout their career.
‘My Side Of Town’ is probably the closest you will get to the sound of the band’s debut full length Road Maps and Heart Attacks. While it is obvious that the band haven’t changed up their formula too much, the much improved production value and extra time taken to create the album can definitely be heard and do wonders for the band’s sound. It is a fun upbeat track that urges you to have fun
‘Get It, Got It, Good’ is easily the albums highlight. Its heavy, fast paced guitars and crashing drums make it the quickest sounding track on the album- a fast paced, chaotic pop punk assault- and can pass as the anthem for the album, encapsulating the band’s entire message in one 2 minute 45 second track. The album may have benefited with more tracks of this speed and tempo as it breaks away from the steadiness of the rest of the album and the in your face nature of the track definitely works in the band’s favour.
If there is one criticism of the album it is that at times the album falls into a trap of sameness and repetition, almost like the listener can anticipate what is going to happen in the next track based on the fact that not much has changed in the tracks preceding it. While James Jalili’s drumming is exceptional and helps to keep songs interesting the fact that the album is mostly made up of three(ish) minute, mid tempo pop punk songs creates this predictability. ‘Get It, Got It, Good’ and the slower paced, much more melodic less punk, album closer ‘This Is An Airport Train’ are really the only deviants from the formula.
However, the soaring choruses and hook laden melodies partnered with the strong, densely layered instruments help to keep the tracks sounding fresh and interesting, and even if the general structure of the tracks does become predictable the fun, catchy nature of the songs and the raw, emotional power of the band make up for it.
While This Time Next Year aren’t bringing anything new to the table with Drop Out Of Life, it is an album chock full of tried and true pop punk. Instead of concentrating on trying to reshape the genre, This Time Next Year have created an album full of fun, energetic tracks made up of catchy hooks and bouncy melodies that will slot in perfectly with the big players in the genre and make the perfect soundtrack for many summer road trips this year.
1. Drop Out Of Life
2. Better Half
3. Living Hell
4. Last Call
5. Modern Day Love Story
8. My Side of Town
9. Get it, Got it, Good
11. This is an Airport Train