Album: Life’s Not Out To Get You
Release Date: 14/8/15
Label: Hopeless Records
Neck Deep have been soaring on an upward trajectory ever since they released debut album Wishful Thinking last January, two stints on Warped Tour in the US, a massive and sold out UK tour and support slots to the likes of All Time Low at Wembley and Blink 182, their heroes. Having been hailed as the best pop punk band in the UK the band have had some added pressure on them to deliver on their second album. They’ve been giving the Americans a real run for their money and most the time have won, but now can they stand out on their own as the emerging pop punk band to be able to stand with the likes of the Blink, or even A Day To Remember? Speaking of ADTR, frontman Jeremy Mckinnon handled production on this record along with Andrew Wade who has recorded several of ADTR’s recent records. So with high profile names handling this momentous occasion, are the songs strong enough to warrant Neck Deep’s attack on the crown?
‘Citizens Of Earth’ rings out like a siren and declares Neck Deep’s intent to grab the listener from the off. It’s a high tempo opening as they plough through the track with aplomb. ‘Threat Level Midnight’ sounds a lot more like their previous material but with a stronger foundation as even this early we can tell the songs are more polished and a lot more time and conscious decision making has gone into this album. Time changes and some solid drumming from Dani Abasi keep this track on point whilst the lyrics are akin to your cliche pop punk standards. ‘Can’t Kick Up The Roots’ is their “I love my hometown even though it’s shit” song, however Ben Barlow has written lyrics that are actually a little more clever and metaphorical than the genre usually produces. Gang chants and a memorable chorus will make this a fan favourite during live sets.
‘Kali Ma’ is another indicator of stronger songwriting ability with a bouncy chorus and a guest spot by Mr.Mckinnon, although brief it really helps lift this track. Arguably the albums best song, ‘Gold Steps’ is everything we love about Neck Deep, it has that energy and fun nature and comes with the best chorus the band has written to date, from which the key lyric was taken for the albums title. The second verse is bass driven and catchy as fuck with Ben almost sounding like he’s about to knock out the best rap of 2015. ‘Lime St.’ has a more melodic feel to it whilst ‘Serpents’, the other contender for the best song on the record, is melody through and through and sounds like nothing the band have released before. It’s a remarkable change to their songwriting ability and shows how much they’ve grown as a band.
‘The Beach Is For Lovers (Not Lonely Losers)’ continues this trend of melody and slows things down a bit which is needed to keep the songs sounding different to one another. “We don’t wanna tell the same sad story, heard it all before and that’s fucking boring” sticks out like a sore thumb and couldn’t be any truer. There is an acoustic track on this album and it comes in the form of ‘December’, not as anthemic as A Part Of Me but still a tear jerker of a ballad. This has the potential to become a moment at future gigs, lights dimmed, lighters in the air and everyone softly singing back to the band. Goosebumps. ‘Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors’ tries to lift spirits and energy levels back up after that sombre effort and it does a good job of doing so. A no nonsense three minutes of ruthless pop punk.
‘I Hope This Comes Back To Haunt You’ trades in the fun nature of the riffs to take a more serious approach to mirror the sentiment related through the lyrics. It’s the songs like this where the guys knuckle down and take this music malarky more seriously that they write memorable tunes and look set to have a brighter future. ‘Rock Bottom’ being the closer the band could’ve gone down the ballad route or take no prisoners. They went for neither. It all feels a bit flat as a closer and is probably one of the weaker songs on the album. Overall though this is a brilliant indication of what Neck Deep are about and how they intend on taking on the world, not just the world of pop punk. Not many people will be saying “Fook Neck Deep mate they’re shit” for much longer as we’re confident this will win over many doubters and people who have been on the fence for a while now.