I am always looking for new music and with this being a new year, there is all new music to explore and listen to. But, with January being like the movies, not a lot is coming out, but I have found a really solid pop-punk album by the Australian band Tonight Alive called Underworld.
This is their fourth studio album and the last with the guitarist Whakaio Taahi who left after the release of this album. Long time producer Dave Petrovic once again recorded the album. It’s also the band’s first on the Australian independent label UNFD, so this is an album of coming and going.
But we start with “Book Of Love” a song that fits the coming and going that the band has gone through with this album, as the track explores going all in with someone you love and not caring what people think.
This is more shown with the chorus lines “Burn our names under the stars, and we’ll live until the sky gives up, Watch our flame light up the dark“. With the delay guitar and Jenna McDougall’s vocals driving this point across, it set the tone for the whole record.
“Temple” looks into the feeling of self-image – thinking that something wrong with you, and getting used to that fear. This is displayed in the opening lyrics “I’m intoxicated by my depression and I’m consumed by the fear“, and with Jenna claiming, in the chorus “I do not think you heard me when I said, My body is a temple, Tell me why it hurts like, Why it hurts like hell“. And with distorted guitar and Jenna’s great vocal work, it really had the grit for the subject matter at hand.
“Disappear” features the lead vocals of Lynn Gunn from PVRIS, which really brings out the styles of the two bands on the record, and strong PVRIS influence can be heard in the chorus line, “we could disappear for a while“. With the song being about running off with someone without thinking, it really works for what Tonight’s Alive is going for.
We then go onto “The Other” which is about being the outsider and people thinking something is wrong with you. This is best shown in the lines “The other, I am other” and Why everybody looks at me like I’m not what I ought to be“. Musically, the track comes backed by solid instrumentation all around, which makes it a stand out for me.
“In My Dreams” looks into the idea of being alone, but in our dreams flying high, and with the reverb going through the song. it really gives off that feeling. The chorus, with lyrics such as, “And in my dreams, we speak with light” puts the meaning very nicely and is where the album goes more pop than the other tracks
On “For You“, the band go all pop, but in a good way, with the nice instrumental build up. This is a good solid love song and will be stuck in your head for days. It made for a lovely listen throughout, and was for me, a nice throwback to early 2000’s pop tunes.
With “Crack My Heart” and “Just For Now“, the album starts to use the same structure, with slow to big choruses, which is fine, but on repeat listen, it doesn’t go down well here. “Crack My Heart” and “Just for Now” do does have their moments with lyrics lines like “Crack my heart open, with your bare hands” and an amazing bridge which was really good.
Also, the bridge on “Just For Now”, with lines like “I can’t erase what we had, so please understand“, backed by its driving drumbeat, really got me. “Burning On” hits the same notes, as it explores not wanting someone you love to leave you.
“Waiting For The End” is another song that, with that chorus line “Here I am, I’m proud to stand for, More than living scared to death“, you will be singing all day, but the last three songs are where the album ends on a high.
Starting with yet another catchy pop song “Last Light“, and then, a beautiful piano track showing Jenna’s amazing vocals titled “Looking For Heaven“, and “My Underworld” being a calm reflection on love, with addition vocals from Corey Taylor, really adding value, to really close the album off nicely.
Overall, I really enjoy this album, which is held together nicely by the really great subject matter, Jenna’s amazing vocal, and the great instrumental playing, which really made it a joy to listen to. Even though, it did, at times, have song structures that were just too simple, I do hope I find more good albums like this in 2018.
Underworld by Tonight Alive is out now, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Stuart Irvine