Kerrang! (UK) - - Lives -

Those spy­ing the ni­hilis­tic ti­tle of Joyce Manor’s fifth record, or Con­verge gui­tarist and World’s Heav­i­est Pro­ducer Kurt Bal­lou’s name in the pro­duc­tion cred­its, may be won­der­ing if the Cal­i­for­nia out­fit have made a brain-bash­ing metal al­bum. Erm, no, ob­vi­ously. But they have come a long way from their pop-punk roots, refin­ing their giddy melodies and breath­less lyrics into tighter ar­range­ments that make them an even more ef­fec­tive beast. Mil­lion Dol­lars To Kill Me com­pletes that decade-long trans­for­ma­tion with 10 short, smart nuggets of power-pop per­fec­tion. Not that the swoon­ing vo­cal har­monies and laid-back vibes have dulled song­writer Barry John­son’s acer­bic wit. On hazy strum­mer I’m Not The One he takes aim at mil­lion­aires and hard­core elit­ists alike, while

Friends We Met On­line is a bit­ter­sweet cel­e­bra­tion of on­line com­mu­ni­ties and teenage iso­la­tion with the know­ing caveat, ‘I know it sounds kinda lame

when I say it out loud.’ Joyce Manor may still be the same geeks at heart, but none of this is the least bit lame. JAMES MACK­IN­NON

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