Best of 2016 Playlist

December 14, 2015

Tonight Alive - "Drive" Single Review

Another new song from Tonight Alive's upcoming album has graced our presence. The band will be releasing their 3rd album, "Limitless" this upcoming March, preceded and followed by a headlining world tour. This new song, "Drive", rides the wave of anticipation from "Human Interaction" and "To Be Free" (The latter of the two being, in our opinion, the superior). Click this (link) to preorder the album on iTunes, and or buy the song. See if you think this track is able to live up to the band's reputation, and its predecessors. 

If you thought Paramore's "Self Titled" album was a huge shift from their initial sound, then prepare yourself because this is a far more drastic switch. Tonight Alive have spared nothing going forward with this new sound. Thus far, each song has been very distinct, no two alike. And none sound like anything the band has done before. 

The band may have been going for diversity on this album. If that's the case, then we're okay with the high contrast between songs. But if not, then this album is going to bear a striking resemblance to Sleeping with Siren's album "Madness", in that there's little unity even though the songs themselves are well written. 

"Drive" is the most unique song in the band's repertoire, there's no contest. The pros and cons are fairly even. There's no need to praise Jenna McDougall's vocals, we all know she's got a great voice. But the fun atmosphere the song puts out, and Jenna's vocals are the only highlights. 

The instrumentals aren't anything special, nor are the lyrics. There's something to be desired in the typical "I'm going to break away from conventions" lyrics. It's so generic, and mainstream, not Jenna's usual, often highly personal, storytelling style. This is a radio friendly version of, say, "Hell and Back" or "Bathwater". So on the lyrics front this isn't the band's strongest song. 

The instrumentals are also big letdowns. Where their previous album saw Whakaio Taahi come into his own with sleek guitar solos and killer riffs, most if not all of his talent is wasted. This song reeks of Magic's "Rude", and not in a good way. 
Lots of maracas, synths, and 4/4 drum beats, this song's structure wouldn't be more generic or blueprinted. 

The production is high quality, as expected from David Bendeth, and the emphasis on Cam Alder's bass skills is a nice change. But the verses lose the "oomph" the chorus has. The chorus' reggae vibe is something that is either really awesome, or a terrible decision. Some fans will like it, other wont't. And we totally get both arguments. Again, it's Tonight Alive branching out and trying something new, a positive. But there are times when it feels so "made-in-studio" and forced. Which is why we're half and half on this track. 

Summary -
As a standalone song, this has the same catchiness and bounce as Paramore's "Ain't It Fun" (to continue the comparison between the two bands). The song has a lot of bounce, and an unexpected reggae feel to it. Not what we were expecting from the former pop punk band, but nonetheless welcomed. It's nice seeing them branch out and try new things. The success of their experimentation thus far has varied, but overall it's solid work. Another single may drop between now and March, seeing as it's only December and we have about two and a half months to go, but if not we're satisfied with "Drive" being the last pre-album single. 

Rating - 6.5 to 7/10 (maybe 7.5)