My Thoughts on What a Time to Be Alive

Hello everybody ! Today, I’m going to be talking about Tom Walker’s newly released debut album What a Time to Be Alive (the current number one in the UK !), which I’ve been excited for since last summer when the lead single was used in the promo for Unforgotten. Onto the post!


Angels- I don’t think this is the strongest song on the album, but it’s definitely a good opener. It’s a pretty good indication of what you’re going to get from this album in terms of vocals and instrumentals (which are similar but have very distinct sounds on each track) and it’s so thought provoking in subject matter- it’s hard to explain but it’s about how angels aren’t necessarily perfect people.

Leave a Light On- this song is stunning. I’m sure you’ll have heard it as it was one of the biggest singles of 2018, but if not get on it. It’s about someone trying to support a friend through addiction and it’s just beautiful. Incredibly powerful, with lyrics that really tell its story and instrumentals/vocals more than strong enough to back it up. Exceptional.

Not Giving In– after the way I just spoke about Leave a Light On, it may shock you to learn that it’s not my fave from the album, but this is. It’s about another person that the narrator is trying to help (though I’m sure I read this one isn’t autobiographical) and it’s even more powerful. The writing is absolutely phenomenal, the drums and guitars add the exact right intensity in terms of instruments and Tom Walker’s voice sounds so raspy and brilliant here.

How Can You Sleep at Night?- this is about a couple after an argument and overall I like this a lot, despite a couple of issues. Issues out of the way first- I think a couple of the lines are a bit dodgy from a feminist perspective e.g. trying to guilt the girl into taking him back because she makes him a better man and on a less ideological level I think the first verse is quite a slow starter. One of the ways this album shines is with production and it’s so stripped back there isn’t room for anything notable there. I do love the chorus a great deal though so that’s why I have a good opinion of this as a whole song (those high notes are divine. Though I’m not sure high notes is the right word… They’re more like howling.)

Now You’re Gone (feat. Zara Larsson)- not a big fan of this to be honest. Recently with songs with features I’ve been noticing this issue where one person sings almost the whole song and the other does barely anything. This song does that, but unlike most songs the featured artist sings more than the main one. It feels like Tom Walker hardly sings, which isn’t exactly handy given it’s his album and not Zara Larsson’s. I do like his falsetto, but I didn’t listen to this album because I wanted to hear Zara Larsson. I wanted to hear Tom Walker. Fair play for letting his featured artist actually sing though, because it bugs me when featured artists get like two solo lines.

My Way– there’s nothing actually wrong with this song, but there’s nothing that right either. It’s just… bland. I can’t work out what it’s about, though I think it’s about living life for yourself and not other people? The instrumentals are good but there’s nothing distincitive and the production makes them sound weirdly distorted. Tom Walker’s voice is so so great, but this song doesn’t do anything interesting for it.

Blessings- LOVE this one, barring one little bugbear. It’s about appreciating your friends and it’s SO good. The guitars and drums sound freaking BRILLIANT and I love the way it shows off Tom’s voice. I also think it’s a really lovely subject for a song that I don’t recall seeing before really. It feels very boy next door, and I love it even more knowing that he wrote some lines with the sole purpose of winding up the friends it refers to. Only thing that annoys is me is the first line of the chorus, because I don’t want Katy Perry songs he’s been listening to but I’m interested in the idea that they’re something idyllic/to be aspired to?

Cry Out– I don’t hate this, but I don’t love it. Tom Walker is as great as ever vocals wise, but I can’t quite work out the story this is trying to tell and I don’t feel like the melody is great- it just doesn’t flow that well in terms of how it sounds.

Dominoes– this is another one I like a lot- I think the theme (there still being good in the world despite it seeming awful a lot of the time) is an important one in our times, and it’s tackled pretty well (though it’s not my fave of this rapidly emerging subgenre of song, that honour goes to Pretty Shining People). The vocals are insanely good, the production is epic and it’s a fabulous addition to this album.

Fade Away- I think the intro of this is too long, but once it gets past that it’s a great ballad. It sounds very different to the rest of the album sonically but it’s fantastic- the stripped back piano allows Tom’s voice to absolutely shine even more than it does on the songs with more production. So much emotion in it too; it’s fantastic.

Just You and I- SUCH a bloody lovely song, and I think we all know I’m a sucker for one of those. It’s so simple and honest and beautiful because of it- it really celebrates this specific relationship and I just adore it. It always makes me smile when I listen, particularly to the gorgeous chorus.

The Show- this is kind of like a stream of consciousness love letter to London, and it’s both an interesting concept and a well executed one. I’ve never been to London but this song kind of made me feel like I was there and I love it too, because even though the narrator acknowledges London isn’t perfect at all their love for it is so clear. It’s a fu way to close the album (I’m pretty sure the last two are just bonus tracks. Hence why theyre not included here…)


Have you heard this album? If yes, what’s your favourite song? If no, do you plan to? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Amy x

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Author: goldenbooksgirl

Middle grade/young adult book blogger

4 thoughts on “My Thoughts on What a Time to Be Alive”

      1. This one is a recent fave for me and I’ve also been listening to a lot to Oh Wonder by the band of the same name and Billie Eilish (you’ll LOVE you should see me in a crown!!). My evergreen rec is obvs George Ezra who I don’t think you listen to atm? I think you’d prefer his early stuff to his second album though. I’m not sure if you’d like Troye Sivan but I’m very into him at the moment as the well!

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