A year ago, All Time Low gave fans a taste of their album, Future Hearts, when “Kids in the Dark” dropped in the form of another music video that was quite different from everything else in the Baltimore pop-rockers’ video collection. All Time Low begin the video with a young girl shielding herself from a screaming match between who are assumed to be her parents. As she covers her ears and soaks in the argument, a folded piece of paper is tossed through the mail slot on her front door. When the girl opens it, it’s a note covered in child-like drawings saying, “The Kids In The Dark invite you to escape…find us at The Old Iron Works.”
The girl wanders out her front door in her pajamas and slippers, giving the note to a blue-haired girl who takes her by the hand and leads her into a room. Black lights are the only source of illumination as a crowd of kids dance and cover each other in neon paint. The camera shows close-ups of freckled faces and doe-eyed youngsters smiling, which is where we lose our slipper-wearing protagonist until the last five seconds of the video.
The overall message of the song and video appear to be that no matter what you are going through (i.e. a difficult home life), you are not alone, and there’s always an “escape.” The video sets this up by showing how the teen girl is affected by her parents’ fighting, but it falls short in driving it home when it loses her to the crowd for the majority of the video. There isn’t really a resolution as she returns home covered in paint to her parents still fighting while her mother is on the phone.
When it comes to the cinematography of the video, it’s clearly shot and edited well. The darker tones for the shots of home life situation are unlike any other All Time Low video, which have given us the aforementioned zombie parody, a “Dear Maria (Count Me In)” strip club scenario and mascot-wearing band members in “Backseat Serenade”—just to name a few.
As far as the song itself, it was good, but I look forward to hearing what else the band has to offer. There was a lot of repetition with only two similar verses and two chorus run-throughs. However, the subject material the band addresses is applause-worthy as they mention self-harm (So let the world sing / ‘What a shame, what a shame / beautiful scars on critical veins’”), but make it clear there is strength in numbers and support (“We’ll never surrender / the kids in the dark”).
The only nitpicky criticism is the literal interpretation of one set of lyrics in a video that had thus far played on the creative metaphors of the song as a whole. When vocalist Alex Gaskarth belts out the second and final run through of the chorus (“They left us alone, the Kids In The Dark / to burn out forever, or light up a spark / We come together, state of the art”), once he hits the word “spark,” the dance party lights up with literal sparklers held by the kids and the shots of the band performing include an arena-like explosion behind them.
For a band that often throws dick jokes into their onstage banter, this was an interesting approach for song and video content. While All Time Low do have songs with heavier than their normal subject material (“Lullabies,” “Therapy”), they have strayed away from making videos for them until now.