With their third full-length, it seems Chicago pop-punkers Allister have moved past the antics of restless suburban youth to release their most (gasp!) grown-up album to date. But don't fret. In all honesty, maturity in Allister terms seems to just mean that the songs on this album skip much of the juvenile humor and have a noticeably darker, more bitter feel than past more lighthearted efforts. Even the album's title and accompanying artwork suggest sunny times are over. However, just because the guys appear to be past their "Jacob Thinks I'm Gay" days, it doesn't mean that the songs on this record are any less catchy, driving, or singalong-able as past efforts. The opener, "Waiting," aptly sets the album's pace, as frustration and doubt weave their way through most every song on Before the Blackout; but no matter how dark the aesthetic, the Allister that fans know shines through regardless. Girls are still breaking their hearts multiple times over ("I hope it kills you to think of what you missed/you don't mean anything to me" from "You Lied"), and the band still loves rock & roll (note the standout, guitar-driven "Rewind"). Allister also takes aim at the state of music (the rollicking "A Study in Economics") and influences of pop culture ("Suffocation"), while packing plenty of personal introspection along the way. Despite its shadowy exterior, Before the Blackout doesn't really tread into any strikingly new ground for the band; it's still an album of well-executed, enjoyable rock that should please all concerned parties. Sometimes it's better not to totally reinvent the wheel anyway.
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AllMusic Review by Corey Apar