Album Review: Man Overboard – Heavy Love

Man Overboard’s quest to defend pop punk from its unknown oppressor continues with the release of their fourth studio album ‘Heavy Love’. The band have often struggled to escape from the shadow cast by naming themselves after a Blink-182 song, with every album being compared to the kings of pop punk. Prior to the release of ‘Heavy Love’, guitarist Zac Eisenstein mentioned that the band were trying to something different and push their songwriting forward, but just how far can you push pop punk? Let’s find out.

Opener ‘Now That You’re Home’ doesn’t take long to get going. The recognisable dual vocal attack courtesy of Eisenstein and bassist Nick Bruzzese is everywhere. It soon becomes apparent that the song is extremely polished and “radio friendly”, similar to the production on last album ‘Heart Attack’. Some of the hooks are more complex than earlier albums, more Weezer than straight up pop punk. The grit of earlier Man Overboard albums sadly isn’t present here, at least not yet.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OR3R0q3cxE&w=100&h=420]

‘Reality Check’ opens with a Jimmy Eat World-style lead guitar riff before making way for yet more dual vocals. The bass and drums keep the track moving through the verse section into an extremely catchy chorus, something that Man Overboard do so well. The only criticism of this earlier part of the album, is that each song seems to follow a similar formula. All credit to Man Overboard for identifying what makes their band appealing to their fans, but changing it up slightly wouldn’t go amiss.

‘Cliffhanger’ sees the introduction of the classic Man Overboard sound, the frantic tempo, more lyrics about ex girlfriends and gritty vocals courtesy of Bruzzese. Despite its undoubtedly more ‘punk’ sound, ‘Cliffhanger’ really benefits from the production that has pulled ‘Heavy Love’ more into the pop side of things. The clarity and careful vocal layering really adds to the song rather than removing any of the substance.

‘Heavy Love’ flows extremely well as a record, partly because a lot of the songs are extremely similar. The band have released solid album after solid album, without ever really reaching The Wonder Years or The Story So Far levels of cult fandom. Man Overboard write fantastic pop songs and you will enjoy this album if you are a fan of any of the bands I’ve mentioned. However, on the whole, after hearing how the band were “trying something new” on this record, I can’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed.

3/5

’Heavy Love’ by Man Overboard is released on 29th June on Rise Records.

Man Overboard links: Facebook|Twitter

Words by Andy McGonigle (@andyjmcg87)

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