Album Review: Neck Deep – Life’s Not Out To Get You

Ever since emerging out of nowhere back in 2012, Neck Deep have been on a rocket ship that hasn’t stopped. Last years ‘Wishful Thinking’ sped up their ascension with their popularity getting bigger with every tour and festival appearance, so much so their sophomore effort is one of the most anticipated releases of the summer. Having influenced their fair share of imitators over the past 12 months or so, ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ could be make or break for the Wrexham pop-punks. However, on this evidence it seems like that rocket isn’t going to descend anytime soon.

Whilst it’s far from “Record of the Year” material, what the quintet have produced is an all-round feel good pop-punk record that makes you want to bounce around at every opportunity. Yet it begins with a slight edge as ‘Citizens Of Earth’ serves as (semi-)intro. With the defining message of “It’s just a matter of opinion, but no one ever fucking listens” being central; addressing the critics that have shared judgement on the band, even if it mattered or not.

‘Threat Level Midnight’ truly kickstarts the album and sets the standard early on with its crisp production, thriving drum work and simple but effective rhyming wordplay. Don’t get me wrong, what Neck Deep do is produce your standard pop-punk by the numbers, yet they do it very well. Recent singles ‘Can’t Kick Up The Roots’ with its crunching guitars and reminiscent lyrical theme and ‘Gold Steps’; overcoming a bad situation sentiments play into this theory, but when you have a chorus as brilliant and catchy as the latter does, then you can’t help but let go and simply enjoy what’s on offer.

In the past, the vocal stylings of Ben Barlow has become a nuisance, yet the band’s road experience has been an advantage to the frontman. ‘Kali Ma’ and ‘Lime St’ highlight an improvement in Barlow’s abilities whilst Dani Washington’s drum work is a subtle highlight throughout; his rapid drum fills add that little something extra that makes ND as admired as they are.

Lyrically their wordplay is, at times, basic but like the hooks, you can’t help but enjoy them. ‘Serpent’ prospers in the bridge; “She sleeps underneath the service, consulting with the serpents, she strikes without a purpose.” Whilst the matter of a devilish, untrustworthy female is a welcomed theme to the typical pop-punk spectrum.

The sappy ‘December’ is a natural sequel to fan favourite ‘A Part of Me’ (and with better vocals) and allows the quintet to give us a break from the buoyant, lively style that plays a major part on ‘LNOTGY’. Its mellow strings and light acoustic are a worthy addition, albeit a bit too polished.

It’s no doubt that ‘LNOTGY’ will divide opinion. Latter numbers ‘Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors’ and ‘Rock Bottom’ are reminiscent of Blink-182 (‘TOYPAJ’ era) and firmly stick to a winning formula – something that the “haters” will be quick to point out. Nonetheless, it’s clear Neck Deep have fine-tuned the formula down to a tee. From start to finish, it offers larger-than-life hooks and effectively combines it with a simple, infectious and bold instrumentation.

Neck Deep’s intention was never to redefine the pop-punk genre. The purpose of ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ was to prove a point. They could have been a flash in the pan but having produced an addictive record, Neck Deep won’t be disappearing any time soon. Longtime fans will defend this record all the way, and it may even change some skeptic minds (just like me).

In closing, there is a reason why that Neck Deep have been touted as “kings” of the UK pop-punk scene and ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ is the most solid piece of evidence you’ll need to back that fact up. Pop-punk perfection.

4.5/5

‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ by Neck Deep is released 14th August on Hopeless Records.

Neck Deep links: Website|Facebook|Twitter|YouTube

Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)

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