In early 2017, Tonight Alive announced they were signed to Hopeless Records, a label home to Neck Deep, New Found Glory, and many more. TA’s sound has always been firmly rooted in Australian pop punk, but their newest creation Underworld sees them breaking boundaries and producing something much more than just a generic pop punk record. Themes such as maturity and honesty burn throughout the record, with tracks being raw and powerful at times, yet refined and genuine at others.
Guitar-laden ‘Temple’ features fiercely honest lyrics, which singer Jenna McDougall says she wrote during a period in her life where she felt trapped, suffering from severe depression. The lyrics are a stark contrast to the lively nature of the music, making it an emotionally powerful song that will have many singing along, all around the world.
‘For You’ is a track that is subtler, with McDougall’s vocals being the focal point; tender lyrics are accompanied by a steady rhythm and gentle guitars. The balance between heartfelt and headstrong on this album is stunning; ‘Crack My Heart’ is a step away from the sincerity of For You. With huge guitars and defiant lyrics, it suggests a story of moving on and finding oneself. With an anthemic chorus and a breakdown that’s sure to be a hit live, it’s one of the stand-out tracks that Underworld has to offer.
While “delicate” is rarely a word used to describe a pop punk band, it’s one that goes hand-in-hand with ‘Last Light’. Gentle yet mighty, this track holds a vulnerability that, in other tracks on this LP, can hardly be detected. McDougall’s control over her voice, and her way with words makes this song truly shine.
Swelling and growing, ‘My Underworld’ closes this album. With Slipknot’s Corey Taylor accompanying Jenna McDougall on vocals, it creates something beautiful; voices filled with emotion and blending perfectly alongside perfectly polished guitars and subtle beats from drummer Matt Best, to create a song that is short but sweet.
Underworld is a step forward for Tonight Alive, a step away from raw power. Their talent shines through in the gentler tracks, highlighting the strength they have as a unit. While this album doesn’t completely defy genres, it does highlight the songwriting ability and the maturity of the four, and leaves the listener questioning what Tonight Alive will produce next.