Less than ten years into their career, it would be an understatement to say that Neck Deep are genre heavyweights. With a trio of highly rated, and highly successful albums under their belts, there is a lot of expectation of the bands fourth full-length release.
Fortunately, Neck Deep live up to their own lofty standards. ‘All Distortions are Intentional’ sees Neck DeepFlaunting their pop chops, with hooks galore, and flourish abound. That’s not to say that this record is heavy on production-far from it. Just that Neck Deep have tried something new, given a few surprises, but mostly err on the ‘pop’ side of pop-punk on this release.
‘All Distortions are Intentional’ is very much reminiscent of New Found Glory’s ‘Coming Home’, if not in sound, then in spirit. This is a band pushing the boundaries of pop-punk. Not completely abandoning the genre, but certainly exploring the outer territory of this genre.
Had Neck Deep had the luxury of a summer festival circuit, tracks such as ‘Sonderland’, ‘Fall’ and single ‘Lowlife’ would very much become the soundtrack of the summer. Featuring a sound that is understated, yet anthemic; with choruses that are as shoutable, as they are personal. While it may not be a record that propels Neck Deep into the mainstream, it should certainly broaden their fan base.
That isn’t to say that there is an absence of straight-up pop-punk here. ‘Telling Stories’ and ‘When You Know’ have the sound that will resonate with long-standing fans, and fits in alongside their Hopeless Records back catalogue. The power chords are still well and truly represented. The guitars are just occasionally enhanced with delay and loop effects, which compliment the sound perfectly. Throw in a few slow songs, such as ‘Empty House’, and you have the makings of a very solid record indeed.
This is a smart move on Neck Deep’s part. In a year that has seen established bands persevere or revert back to their pop-punk sound-see Four Year Strong and All Time Low-it’s s welcome and refreshing for a band to try something new, without completely abandoning who they are.
Ultimately, this album is the perfect soundtrack to a summer robbed by the current global pandemic. Sunshine radiates throughout this album. However, just beneath the surface, the lyrics ring of nostalgia, melancholy and loss. The age-old pop-punk tropes of growing up, heartbreak and hometown escape are also abound on this record. But Neck Deep have tweaked their sound in such a creative way, that you don’t mind. This record is very much a summer breeze triumphantly battering through the coronavirus malaise.
‘All Distortions are Intentional’ is out now via Hopeless Records.