Who’s that there with the pop-punk album of the year? Why, it’s Neck Deep
THE PEACE AND THE PANIC (Hopeless) IN PONDERING LIFE, THE WREXHAM POP-PUNKS WRITE THE ALBUM OF THEIR LIVES
IFYOU’VE ever considered wearing a ‘Neck Deep generic pop punk’ shirt non-ironically, then pay attention, and forget everything you previously thought about the band. On third album The Peace And The Panic, gone are overly-whiny vocals and parts borrowed from their heroes – (cough) blink-182 – and in their place is the pop-punk album of 2017; 11 instantly-loveable, genuinelyunique tracks, sure to set Neck Deep on a career trajectory that mimics their heroes exactly.
The title perhaps sums up life for the fivesome over the past couple of years.while living a peaceful existence, playing shows in their band, they were thrown the kind of panic life has in store for us all eventually. In a horrible symmetry of events, singer Ben Barlow and bassist Fil Thorpe-evans both lost their dads whilst on tour, and in addition, each lost a close friend.the pair have gone from preaching that life’s not out to get you on album two, to ‘actually, life’s a dickhead and here’s how you deal with it’.
It’s the tracks that would have been hardest for Ben and Fil to craft that see them excel as songwriters. On Wish You Were Here, Fil delivers a brutally honest account of the car crash that took his oldest friend.as Ben sings,‘don’t say everything’s meant to be / ’Cause you know that’s not what I believe / Can’t help but think that it should have been me,’ over an acoustic guitar, you can’t help but be moved. Meanwhile, on 19 Seventy Sumthin’ – equally as frank – Ben tells the story of his parents meeting, marrying and raising a family through their eyes, before his dad suffers a heart attack, and the perspective flips and sees him comforting his mother towards the song’s uplifting ending. Both are brave, beautiful and tragic.
A 400-word review isn’t enough to dissect the intricacies of this record, and there’s plenty more that makes it brilliant, like (deep breath): politically-charged tracks Happy Judgement Day (which’ll stay in your head longer than Trump’ll be in office) and Don’t Wait (bolstered by vocals from Architects’ Sam Carter); The Grand Delusion, which chirpily addresses selfdoubt with the line,‘i think I would rather be anyone else but me’; hidden gem Critical Mistake, a superhooky, real-talk relationship track set firmly in 2017; and two songs contemplating life, Motion Sickness and closer Where Do We Go When We Go. ‘We are just passing by,’ states Ben, poignantly, on the final number – the catchiest on the record, encouraging you to press repeat on the entire effort – before his parting words:‘i don’t wanna wait for that goodbye to see what could’ve been / And I just wanna get one up on life before it kills me.’
We’d say that’s: Life 0 – Neck Deep 1. download: Where Do We Go When We Go. For Fans of: All Time Low, Sum 41.
RATINGS kkkkk = classic kkkk = excellent kkk = good kk = average k = poor