O V E R V I E W
Underworld is Tonight Alive’s fourth full length release, and is a bit of a stylistic departure from their previous album, Limitless. While Underworld still feels like Tonight Alive, it feels more experimental, and there are a few different genres dispersed throughout the album. Underworld is definitely an album you should listen entirely through to get a proper feel for what Tonight Alive is looking to accomplish with their new music, as listening to one or two songs may give a skewed perspective on the album.
F L O W / L O N G E V I T Y / O R I G I N A L I T Y
Underworld is slightly unorthodox, switching between the typical edgy, grungier style that we typically love to hear from them, the rock-pop style from songs like “Drive” and a very soft pop, acoustic style that is reminiscent of a Disney star who has made their transition into music. While this may sound unappealing, Tonight Alive gets away with it by being so talented. Nothing ever sounds bad, even if a little cheesy at times (especially “My Underworld”, which features a duet with legend Corey Taylor). The changes are jarring at times from song to song, so the album doesn’t always flow smoothly. However, as a collection of songs they work well together, because it’s always nice to have some change when listening to a 13 song album. While nothing in the album feels particularly unique or ground-breaking, its a very well executed rock-pop album that doesn’t feel tired in 2018.
V O C A L S / I N S T R U M E N T A T I O N
Jenna McDougall is amazing. She absolutely knocks this whole thing out of the park. I think her biggest strength on Underworld is how confident and comfortable she feels at all times. She’s been doing this for a long time, and it shows. There’s no audible strain on her voice at any point, even when she’s going for those high notes. There is not much to say here, but as the saying goes, no news is good news.
The official video for Tonight Alive’s single “Temple,” off their album ‘Underworld,’ out now on Hopeless Records!
Instrumentally, again, there is nothing ground breaking going on here, but everything feels very solid. The band has learned how to work very well together and knows when to play to each others strengths. This record feels very mature for Tonight Alive; while there are not many single remarkable feats, as a cohesive unit, the band works very well together. No crazy solos or fills where they shouldn’t be, and overall, that is a win for the band. Synth/String elements are not overbearing, and nothing is ever too dramatic. “Just For Now” is the best example of this. When your music feels like music instead of 4 people playing instruments together you’ve attained something special.
C O M P O S I T I O N / P R O D U C T I O N
In regards to the album composition and lyricism, it plays extremely well into the direction that Tonight Alive wanted to take with the album. The songs are crafted from the heart as Jenna wanted to get a deeper understanding of who she really is and what she truly loves and that comes through admirably in each song. It’s this methodology that helps many of the thirteen tracks on Underworld come across in a more powerful way as the heart and desire oozes through the music. Still, don’t expect a very deep, thought-provoking message to come across as it’s a rather blasé affair.
On the production front, the band went with Dave Petrovic who produced 2013’s The Other Side and his ideologies are known immediately as “Book of Love” brings back more of the edge that Tonight Alive had prior to Limitless. This meatier sound is present throughout bits and pieces of the full record, but the overall style lives somewhere in the middle of their first few albums and their last one. One other aspect that’s extremely prevalent lies within the programming, as the backing synths and vocal effects are well utilized and never overdone for the core sound that Tonight Alive is known for.
C O N C L U S I O N
Once again, Tonight Alive has done very well here. They have a beautifully produced, solid album, that, while not earth-shattering, will become a classic for the fans. While failing to create something brand new, they capitalized on a current hole in the market left by bands like Paramore, and it doesn’t feel stale or lifeless. Most of all, Underworld is a pleasant, easy listen. With great, positive lyrical content, a few slower, light songs, and no complicated sections, Underworld is a great palette cleanser for rock fans.