Album Review: Neck Deep – Neck Deep

4/5

For their appropriately self-titled run (and fifth LP), Neck Deep chose to hold up inside a warehouse close to home and work without the outside help of collaborators. Seb took the lead with Ben, Matt W., Sam, and Matt P. over his shoulder, writing and recording on their own, just as they did back in the early days of Neck Deep getting started.

The entire set here is brilliant as always, but of course there are a few favorites I would like to personally point out. “Sort Yourself Out” is probably my favorite track, with its unapologetic lyrics and memorable chorus and accompanying bridge. The message (I took from it) reminds me a bit of “In Bloom,” which had been the highlight of The Peace and the Panic for me: By trying to fix something, you only make it worse.

“They May Not Mean To (But They Do)” also comes with perfect timing in my life, as it discusses the awful truth that parents damage their kids whether they mean to or not. I’m about to welcome my third child and have been having a real identity crisis lately with them. As such, this song hit home for me. Lastly, there’s the closing track, “Moody Weirdo.” There’s a pleasant balance to this song that is more unique than the others, thanks to its blending of an upbeat chorus with morose verses and rising bridge. It definitely feels like a closer, and its deal in acceptance of change is one I needed to hear.

With nearly every album in existence, there are criticisms that can be made, even small ones. While listening to Neck Deep, I couldn’t help but feel like the record sounds a lot like their last two (All Distortions are Intentional and The Peace and the Panic).

Though I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a problem, I was a little surprised by how melodic it is, seeing as the band approached its creation from an old-school perspective. I was expecting it to be a bit harder and rougher around the edges, like Rain in July and Wishful Thinking, but instead, it’s safe and familiar. Again, this is hardly a complaint, but no boundaries were pushed here, nor did I feel much in the way of nostalgia. I also wish bands would stop releasing so much of their albums ahead of time: Having half your record out as singles prior to release kills the excitement of an album drop. I think the sweet spot is 25%.

Neck Deep have been favorites of mine since Life’s Not Out to Get You (2015), and not once have they faltered. This is another great record for me to spin to death in the coming months. It’s energetic, catchy, and sharp.

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