Pop punk. What once was a genre that was both popular amongst young and old, with bands like blink-182 received both critical and commercial success, has become a joke of sorts. “Those lyrics belong in a pop punk song”, “I’ve seen more creativity from a pop punk band” and more are lazy quips by those who see the genre scene as being merely just a way to entertain teenage girls and regurgitate the same sound that’ll never be able to top what we’ve seen before.
Welsh rockers Neck Deep are more than aware of this issue from the get go of their sophomore album Life’s Not Out To Get You. “Fuck Neck Deep mate, they’re shit. Ben’s dad owns a record label” a voice quips at the end of Citizens of Earth, the song that opens up the album with the track being more than a little bit drenched in Sum 41 inspiration. If you’re gonna steal then steal from the best but it’s not so much stealing, more like how every male pop star has looked up to Michael Jackson as an inspiration and taken their own spin on the King of Pop’s sound.
Am I calling Neck Deep the new Kings of Pop Punk? It would be a pretty big claim to say such a thing when the golden oldies like Green Day and Brand New are still present as well as other acts like State Champs making it difficult to give just one act the title of being the best of the best.
I’ll keep hushed on who I think is the best for now (another list for another day) but I’d be well within my right to do so. Take for instance Gold Steps, arguably the best track on the record with that care free attitude that pop punk brings. Enjoyable riffs, positive lyrical theme and colossal chorus along with some even better build up, it’s not hard to see why I’ve had the song on loop for god knows how long.
Actually take back what I said about that track being arguably the best track on the record because you wouldn’t cause an argument, rather you’d start a full on revised debate that hasn’t been seen since the independence referendum last year. “She sleeps beneath the service, consulting with the serpents, she strikes without a purpose” sings frontman Ben Barlow on Serpents as he roars over some quick rapid drum fills, marking an improvement in not only the vocal department but also the way the band play, thanks in no small part to the excessive touring they did after the success of their debut Wishful Thinking. Full of sombre howls and simple but effect bass playing, the track can more than stand up for itself.
The unparalleled enthusiasm that was heard on their debut hasn’t disappeared as it appears on many of the tracks, none more so than the wonderfully titled Threat Level Midnight (don’t worry, the band don’t drop their instruments to do the Scarn halfway through). Full of the typical self loathing lyrics that you’ll no doubt have heard before, it’s hard to judge the song for it when the song itself is so catchy, justifying every second of its playtime. You’ll find it hard not to hum the hook to yourself all day.
Life’s Not Out To Get You is hard to criticise in the same way that Jamie XX’s In Colour left me having to nitpick to make any sort of negative comment. The only shortcoming I can think of is the track December which is far too sappy for my taste, featuring a chorus that’s just difficult to digest. Even at this one low point of the entire album, it still manages to make you feel some sort of admiration with the sentimentality and another great vocal performance from Barlow.
I’ve said it countless times but 2015 has probably been the best year for music so far in the 2010’s which admittedly doesn’t have the same appeal as saying the noughties. The second coming of grime has introduced the masses to the slick lyrical brilliance of JME and Skepta, both dishing out some of the best material of the year. In the same way, Pop Punk has had its own sort of regeneration with Knuckle Puck mixing the emo sound of American Football with the appeal that a genre like pop punk brings. Neck Deep have, in my opinion anyway, filled in the shoes of blink-182 which as an avid fan of the band is hard to process but with an album full of the same polish and emotion to it as Enema Of The State, it’s hard not to get excited about what the band have planned next
You can catch Neck Deep supporting Bring Me The Horizon on their UK tour during November along with a co-headline tour with pals State Champs. Tickets for the latter go on sale tomorrow at 9am here.
So what did you make of Life’s Not Out To Get You? Love it? Hate it? Let me know what’s your favourite track in the comment section below and don’t forget to follow me on my social media below for more fanboying.