Tonight Alive

Underworld

Written by: LL on 17/03/2018 19:15:28

Tonight Alive is a band I've known for a long time by now. But what started as an energetic Australian pop-punk group who drew loads of similarities to early Paramore has now grown sideways into high-strung alternative/pop rock. Sadly this gradual shift in style has also seen them writing more and more big-sounding songs that remain way too anonymous to really be interesting or have much personal staying power. It's especially a shame because frontwoman Jenna McDougall has a great voice as well as a lot of integrity that shows in her lyrics and general presence but just never translates to interesting songs lately.

Overall, their fourth full-length "Underworld" has cranked up the electronic foundation that also played a big role on their last album "Limitless" but mostly it just makes the songs sound way too glossy and slick for their relatively ambitious and deeply felt message of self-development to strike any deep chords. McDougall's dramatic vocal delivery is almost too clean on top of this, with no disrespect to her impressive skills whatsoever. The combination of these elements just makes for a specific arena-friendly sound that comes off as having no depth. The one exception on "Underworld" that got me instantly and that I still listen to is the danceable single "Temple". It maintains a nice forward-striving momentum throughout and has both a catchy chorus and verse melody that also complement each other nicely with a floating musical lightness and a grinding and more dramatic heaviness respectively.

Several of the other songs on the album have a distinct kind of swirling drumming and echoing guitar melodies that recall the newly popular British pop-rockers PVRIS just a little too much. Thus, it becomes a little cringe when said band's vocalist Lynn Gunn actually features on the single "Disappear" that could have easily been on her own band's latest record. The most worthwhile of these songs would definitely be the catchy and to-the-point "Burning On" that makes a fresh appearance in the latter half of the (at that point otherwise declining) album. Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour also features on the album's eponymous ending track "My Underworld", emphasizing a certain kind of hard rock ballad vibe that is also becoming more present in Tonight Alive's songwriting on this album in general.

In the blandness of the record, one other track also stands out. The single "Crack My Heart" with its atmospheric focus sees McDougall really showing off her range and strength but somehow there's not really enough room in the sharply cut song for us to really feel the impact. In total, then, Tonight Alive feels like they are somehow losing the identity of their songwriting while paradoxically trying to grow up from their pop-punk roots. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that movement in itself - it would just be great if the direction they were going in didn't result in these collections of more or less anonymous songs.

4

Download: Temple, Crack My Heart
For The Fans Of: PVRIS, You Me At Six, VersaEmerge, All Time Low
Listen: facebook.com/tonightalive

Release date 12.01.2018
Hopeless Records

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