“I have to walk the path in front of me because I’m not one for following.”
Though it isn’t a lead single, or even the first great track on Underworld, Tonight Alive’s upcoming fourth studio album, “The Other” encapsulates everything the Australian [now-] four-piece attempts and achieves with their latest endeavor – confidence in times of doubt, light through the dark, a personality standing out from the crowd and finding strength when you’re feeling stranded.
“Book of Love” kicks things off, and it sure does kick. Where most would choose to focus on Jenna MacDougall’s powerhouse vocals (and don’t worry, we have plenty of time for that), the instrumentation on the opener is a highlight – Hardy’s guitar work is quick and staggered, while Matt Best’s pulsing drumming builds and builds in the background before crashing into the forefront for the first chorus.
To jump back to the aforementioned first great track, “Temple” is Underworld’s second track, and Tonight Alive’s first real statement song on the album. The track carries a holier-and-heavier-than-thou attitude, with McDougall’s final pleading of the chorus “If my body is a temple, tell me why it hurts like hell?” hitting the hardest.
The heavier sound on Underworld doesn’t mean there is less heart or that there isn’t a softer side to the album; “For You” plays like a callback to Yellowcard’s “Only One,” while “Looking for Heaven” is a gorgeous piano ballad that lets McDougall fly.
With all that being said, Tonight Alive still manage to flex their purely pop muscles quite nicely here. “Last Light” is soft, soaring ‘90s powerpop. “Just For You” features what could be my favorite moment on the album – a simple “la, la, la-la-la” bridge that is perfectly tongue-in-cheek, and it has extra room to be as such because it’s so playfully bubblegum that it could rot your teeth.
Of the two features on the album, which both jump out on paper for different reasons – “a duet with Lynn Gunn? Oh, word!” “A duet with Corey Taylor? Oh, word?” – neither quite lives up to the expectations headed in. “Disappear,” which pairs two of the most prominent, powerful female vocalists in the scene, had the potential to blow the casing off of your speakers. While it’s still a good track, it doesn’t quite reach up to great.
On the other hand, the latter, finale “My Underworld,” gives each performer an equal chance to shine, coupling McDougall’s grace with Taylor’s grit. A surprise, certainly, but a pleasant one to bring the album to its close.
When asked about the record, McDougall considered Underworld a “reflection of the ugly parts of her,” the pieces she said she “wasn’t ready to see until now.” We all have our demons and our faults and our doubts, and if it takes these “ugly” pieces to build something beautiful, then taking a look is worth it.
Release Date: January 12, 2018
Run Time: ~48 minutes
Check Out: “Just For Now,” “The Other,” “”Waiting for the End”
1. Book Of Love
3. Disappear (Feat. Lynn Gunn)
4. The Other
5. In My Dreams
6. For You
7. Crack My Heart
8. Just For Now
9. Burning On
10. Waiting For The End
11. Last Light
12. Looking For Heaven
13. My Underworld (Feat. Corey Taylor)