Neck Deep hold back in most recent release The Peace and The Panic

I don’t understand why punk music gets such a bad reputation. Sure there are angsty teenagers, sometimes dangerous mosh-pits, but still, I would like to think that pop-punk creates some good in the world. Music is a great outlet for everyone and also can become a healthy way for people to deal with their feelings. The band Neck Deep has been helping teenagers everywhere deal with their problems by simplifying life’s problems through lyrics. Although their most recent release The Peace and The Panic was slightly sub-par, the listener can still appreciate the effort the band put into addressing new emotional topics in their album.

The Welsh punk band, Neck Deep, formed in 2012 and signed to Hopeless Records in 2013. The band has become easily recognizable due to smash-hit singles including “December,” “Part of Me,” and “Gold Steps.” In 2015, Neck Deep created their impact on the punk-rock scene with their sophomore release Life’s Not Out to Get You. The unique album skyrocketed on charts all around the world. This album became an essential for alternative music listeners everywhere. This year, the group released their third full-length release, The Peace and The Panic. However compared to previous releases, this album doesn’t quite hit the mark of greatness.

The album kicks off with the song “Motion Sickness.” The song is not overly complex, and it is a great starting point for the album. It’s just a classic pop-punk song but has lyrics that stray from the common pop-punk themes.

The next track is “Happy Judgement Day.” Quite quickly, the listener is hit with a change in energy. This song portrays a much edgier feeling than the previous track. The whole song is angsty in the best way possible. Neck Deep’s talent is showcased in this song through smart use of percussion, key changes, and guitar riffs.

The album loses steam with “The Grand Delusion.” Quite honestly, this was the cliche pop-punk song I never wanted on this album. The lyrics were uninspired and lead singer Ben Barlow holds back vocally and sings in a monotone manner. However, I believe this song could have been a stand-out track if Barlow challenged himself more vocally and if the lyrics were more distinctive.

For me, the album picks up again come “In Bloom.” The song is incredibly well mixed, and the balance of instrumentals is flawless. The song has great energy changes throughout that keeps the listener on edge. This is a must-listen for anyone dipping their toes into the world of pop-punk music.

The album gets to an odd spot come “Don’t Wait (featuring Sam Carter).” To me, the mix of screamo and pop-punk came out of nowhere, and quite frankly shocked me. I do applaud the risk taken in this song, but I think it could have been better planned. The transition from vocalist to vocalist is just not smooth. At all. Imagine trying to drive a boat in the middle of a hurricane. That’s how I felt listening to this song. I was constantly on edge and nearly thrown overboard due to the chaos. There were some good ideas in the song and I enjoyed the message, but I think the ideas could have been executed a little bit better.

The album moves to “Wish You Were Here.” This song is very similar to other heartbreak anthems Neck Deep has previously released. This acoustic-based song gives you all the feels and will make you cry like the movie Marley and Me. The song itself is just unmatchable. The lyrics explore the theme of loss, and I enjoyed the new feel. It’s incredibly raw, honest, and just moves the listener’s soul. I would recommend anyone in need of a good cry to listen to this song. Now.

Throughout the album, it is discovered that one thing Neck Deep consistently does well is guitar. Although this is guitarist Sam Bowden’s first album with the band, his lack of experience does not show at all. The riffs throughout the entirety of the album are simply stunning and get stuck in the listener’s head all day.

All in all, this album is just average. I do appreciate the artistic risks the group took with this release and how they dabbled in many different sound categories, I just don’t think it meshed as they envisioned. There are some exceptional tracks including “In Bloom,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “Happy Judgement Day.” The other tracks, however, didn’t quite hit the mark for me. However, I know that this release could have been exceptional with some minor changes. If Neck Deep decided to stray away from stereotypical pop-punk lyrics more frequently and if Barlow took more gambles vocally, this release could have made it all the way to the top. Although this album is just ordinary, it still shows that Neck Deep has incredible potential for the future, and they aren’t going anywhere.