For Fans Of
Whenever a band changes up their sound, people everywhere decry the same rhetoric – “Bands change and evolve, it’s a good thing” and “People who can’t handle change aren’t real fans”, or other such similar nonsense. The problem in those instances is that if you speak up with a dissenting, differing opinion on a topic – in this case, as above, a band altering their sound (hardly world-ending stuff) – many will see you as merely starting drama or just being a “hater”. Yes, bands do change, sometimes even for the better, but sometimes for the worse. Thus, it’s utterly disingenuous to say that you like something, just to appease outside opinion, when deep down you don’t actually like it at all.. .and deep down I really don’t fucking like this new Tonight Alive record because. Simply put, it’s fucking atrocious.
Honestly, this album was not worth the data I used to bloody stream it!
Now that Tonight Alive have loaded up on the synths, backed off the tempos and the distorted guitars, and dropped the “punk” from their pop-punk sound for ‘Limitless’ (the artwork of which looks like Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan reaching out to us), and after going over this album multiple and considered times, we can safely say that this record can get – and stay 0 in the bin. Why? Because 90% of these songs ring truly hollow and lack any sense of impact or energy, that’s why. Sure, it’s a far more diverse record than the band’s previous two efforts, but diversity for the mere sake of it doesn’t get you that far, people.
Produced by the renowned David Bendeth, the album is both crisp, professional and tight in its sonic quality. But that’s the problem – sure, you can polish up shit songs, but they’ll still be, you know, shit songs. And sweet baby Jesus, these songs are terrible at the worst of times and just passable at the best of them.
‘How Does It Feel?’ is the closest the band sound to their pop-punk days but even then it just makes it over the line of being good, wheezing like a marathon runner soon past the post. The opening riff of ‘Power Of One’ shows serious hope and promise for something that is actually interesting, only for the energy and vibe to die in a matter of seconds; killing the song before it can really begin. ‘We Are’ and ‘Waves’ have high hopes of being these emotional, sweeping songs in the collection – songs that might bookend a massive set or become unplugged, acoustic hits down the line – but they both miss the mark by miles.
Equally, the pop world and Tonight Alive reach peak cringe with ‘Drive’ – the absolute bane of the record. Now being poppy isn’t a bad thing (after all, Katie-Miller Heidke and MO rule) but this pop song devoid of any heart or conviction is just abysmal. Funnily enough, in the chorus, singer Jenna McDougall repeats “No, No, No, No“, which is exactly what I was yelling in disbelief and raging a la Steve Carell from The Office while listening to it.
‘The Greatest’ is a stripped down acoustic number to round out the album and the only saving grace is that it means the album is over. In fact, the only song that we actually liked is the atmospheric and delicate ‘Human Interaction’, which was and still is a big gamble track. It’s one that fans will either embrace lovingly or reject outright (that’s a pretty accurate statement about the album overall) with it lacking any real edge, distortion or the band’s prior pop-punk sensibilities (definitely not the “pop” that ‘Drive’ is either). Unfortunately, it’s nowhere near enough to save this record. Seriously, if this is what the Sydney quintet sound like when they’re genuine, then we’ll stick with their early material thank you very much.
At the end of the day, there are a few questions that one may want to ponder over:
– Is this really the sound that the band wants for themselves?
– Will they change their sound up again for the next album?
– Was the change influenced by the group trying to extend their appeal or because of influence from labels?
Well, in the wise words of the almighty Rick Sanchez – “don’t think about it, Morty”. And don’t listen to this album.
Let’s be real: Tonight Alive are a good band, a better live act and they are a growing Australian band with a very bright future ahead of them. However, just because they’re Australian and popular doesn’t mean that when they drop a record that is so immensely weak and watered down compared to ‘The Other Side’ and ‘What Are You So Scared Of?’ we’ll pull punches with our review. No, it’s not the new look of the band or the shitty and downright awkward music videos they’ve been churning, it’s the music that matters (as it always should), and it’s this music that fails the band in droves on ‘Limitless’. Maybe they’ll sway us on the next record, but for now… I am really are waiting for someone else to break the mould, and it sure as fuck isn’t Tonight Alive.
1. To Be Free
3. Human Interaction
5. How Does It Feel?
8. Power Of One
9. I Defy
10. We Are
11. The Greatest