For some, the rapid trajectory of Neck Deep has been incredible. 2015’s impressive ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ surprised many, it allowed them to shake off niggling comparisons and put the Welsh group in the upper echelons of the pop-punk pyramid. Yet despite their success, the intervening years haven’t been kind to the band. ‘The Peace And The Panic’ sees them come back to reality with a set of lyrically abrupt songs. At its core is the theme of lost; immediate family and friends have departed in recent years.
Throughout vocalist Ben Barlow questions his own mortality (see ‘The Grand Delusion’ and ‘Where Do We Go When We Go’) with a heavy dosage of reality. For example, ‘Parachute’ sees Barlow wanting to be disconnected from “small town politics” and escaping everyday life. Whereas ‘In Bloom’ revolves around coping with loss and trying to move on.
‘TPATP’ is a lyrically multi-faceted record, with ‘Happy Judgement Day’ and ‘Don’t Wait’ seeing the quintet getting political; nods to fake news, building walls, and lying governments. The latter is a rallying call to think for yourself with Architects’ Sam Carter simply adding to the angst.
In comparison to ‘LNOTGY’, there’s little in the way of stylistic progression. Although, they’ve not lost their ability to produce pop-punk-infused earworms. Beyond their lyrical context, ‘In Bloom’, ‘Parachute’ and ‘Where Do We Go…’ are, on the surface, playful and infectious. However, songs such as ‘Critical Mistake’ and ‘Heavy Lies’ come off as safe.
The rose-tinted ’19 Seventy Something’ shouldn’t be ignored. A bittersweet tribute to Barlow’s departed father, it tells the story of his parent’s relationship before Ben sends a mournful message to his mother; “I will hold you when you cry, as that is what he would have done”. It’s a poignant highlight.
‘The Peace And The Panic’ is an admirable step forward for Neck Deep. The combination of being lyrically intriguing alongside a flair for producing big, addictive hooks is pulled off well.
‘The Peace And The Panic’ by Neck Deep is released on 18th August on Hopeless Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)