Neck Deep – Wishful Thinking ★★★★☆

thinkingcoverNeck Deep’s debut album, ‘Wishful Thinking’, has been highly anticipated by what would seem to be pretty much the entire internet. With impressive performances at the likes of Warped Tour UK, and already making a name for themselves around the world, it’s easy to see why. They may not be bringing anything new to the pop punk scene, but what they are offering is pretty damn good.

In opening track ‘Losing Teeth’, vocalist Ben Barlow belts out “Each day and each night a memory. Take care and please don’t forget me”, immediately showcasing the bands immense talent at writing catchy, relatable and heartfelt, meaningful lyrics. This track sets the precedent for the rest of the album – nothing new is being brought to the table, but does this matter? Not in the slightest. This is a pop punk album for pop punk fans.

‘Crushing Grief (No Remedy)’ has the well known angry teen angst sound, with crashing drums and melodies that would warm even the hardest of hearts. The track follows the typical pop punk formula, with fast verses and anthem style choruses it’s a classic feel good song – despite the title! ‘Staircase Wit’, opening with a more impressive guitar riff, is probably the most complex track of the album. With a sound more mature than the rest, yet never once losing the upbeat feel, this is a pop punk song through and through.

‘Damsel In Distress’ is a fun little track, with catchy melodies and a powerful chorus that is easily imaginable as a live favourite with people yelling passionately along to. The drums are fast and bring the track a wonderful energy. ‘Zoltar Speaks’ is the clear standout track of the album. The lyrics are dramatic, the drums heavy, and if you can stay still while listening to this song then you’re doing something wrong. With a classic pop punk sound, but darker verses intertwined with upbeat melodies, this is a fascinating song. It is an example of Neck Deeps ability to pen heavier tracks with passionate delivery.

‘Growing Pains’ is a short but sweet song. One of the fastest tracks on the album, it’s a display of unbridled pop punk fun and is over far too quickly. ‘Sweet Nothings’ carries along a similar path with relatable lyrics about love, “if I could only begin to explain all my flaws, all my fears, all my stupid mistakes, could you still see past all the things I hide away?”, with an upbeat sound and clever hooks.

Compared to the barrage of fast paced pop punk tracks, the impact of the albums far slower closing track ‘Candour’ is clearly heightened. The harmonies between Barlow and guest vocalist Laura Whiteside provides this track with more depth and emotion. This is a really enjoyable ballad and explores the bands softer side and draws the album to very satisfying close.

In the end, for a debut album pinned with such high expectations, ‘Wishful Thinking’ is pretty wonderful. There are very few surprises on this album, but it is fun, catchy, and undeniably more mature than their other releases. 2014 looks set to be a good year for Neck Deep.