Yes, they’re a pop punk band. Yes, their lead singer is a girl. And yes, that does mean that they sound a little bit like Paramore. The comparisons have been done to death in every other review that mentions Tonight Alive, but will their brand new album ‘The Other Side’ give the critics something else to talk about?
The album bursts straight in with the gutsy guitar riffs of ‘The Ocean’. It’s not quite as pop-punk as some of their earlier stuff but it’s just as catchy, just as easy to sing along to and still very much trademark Tonight Alive.
In fact, it’s much better than what you might usually expect to hear from the Aussie five-piece. Right from the off, it’s clear that the band have grown and matured a lot since they released ‘What Are You So Scared Of?’ back in 2011. Their music now oozes confidence, which is hardly surprising when you consider that they’ve already taken on the likes of the Vans Warped Tour and Slam Dunk Festival, sharing the stage with pop-punk giants such as New Found Glory, All Time Low, The Summer Set and Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!
With that in mind, it’s not hard to imagine ‘The Ocean’ going down well in a live setting. With its powerful, catchy chorus and infectious melody, this track will be sure to get the crowds jumping when the band bring their tour to the UK this week.
And if the album’s opening track doesn’t make you want to jump around the room and start head-banging then ‘Lonely Girl’ certainly will! The band teased fans by releasing this track back in August and since then it’s racked up over half a million views on YouTube. It’s easily the biggest stand-out track of the album and with fast, rolling drum beats, pounding guitars, catchy ‘woah-ohs’ and a build up into a huge chorus, ‘Lonely Girl’ is a master-class in how to write a good pop rock tune.
Sadly, not every song on the album is quite as impressive. Title track ‘The Other Side’ tricks you into thinking it’s going to be a soppy acoustic affair, until the drums kick in and things pick up a bit. It might get everyone waving their lighters in the air at a gig but at its heart, ‘The Other Side’ is just another cheesy love song. For an album so full of energy, weaker tracks like this really let it down, which is a shame when it’s clear that the band are capable of so much more.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Just as the album starts to feel like it’s winding down, ‘The Fire’ jumps in and delivers a dose of good, honest pop-punk. The super speedy, twiddly guitar riffs and feel-good lyrics provide a perfect mid-album burst of energy and make it one of Tonight Alive’s best tracks yet.
Lyrically, the album ranges from being weak and watery to raw and emotional. The best moments come when lead singer Jenna pours her heart out in ‘Hell and Back’: “As the walls crash down, I felt it slip away. Because I went through hell and back just to be where I am today” and in ‘You Don’t Owe Me Anything’: “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, I don’t know where to turn if I can’t turn to you”. These moments of honesty make you feel like you can take on the world and serve as a reminder that there’s more to Tonight Alive than just catchy melodies.
Overall, ‘The Other Side’ is fun and easy to listen to but, in all honesty, it’s nothing new. The highs and lows, the high-school heartbreaks, the power chords and the fast, rolling drum beats have all been done before but luckily Jenna’s powerful, soaring voice makes it easy to look past the clichés and just focus on jumping around the room and belting out all of the words. In fact, it’s the vocals that really carry this album and give the band such a unique, distinctive sound.
Despite trying hard to shake off any comparisons with fellow female-fronted bands, Tonight Alive have remained true to their trademark sound and it’s really paid off. ‘The Other Side’ is a huge improvement on their earlier work and although it’s not ground-breaking enough for every track on the album to make you sit up and listen, there are plenty of little gems in there that’ll be stuck in your head for weeks.
If you’re looking for something a little more quirky than your average mainstream rock band then this probably won’t do it for you, but if you like cheery, catchy pop-punk that’s easy to relate to then you won’t be disappointed.
‘The Other Side’ is out now and you can catch Tonight Alive on their UK tour this week. Check out their website for more details.
For more Tonight Alive gossip check out our interview with the pop-punk 5 piece.
Words by Liz Murray
Photo courtesy of Sony PR