Philadelphia-hailing rockers Mannequin Pussy have been conjuring music that moves, both physically and mentally, since …
“Do you like who you are?” – so goes the resounding vocal earworm line opening the brand new self-titled album from Neck Deep.
And guaranteed, a visit with Neck Deep is an entirely likeable experience, with the Wrexham lads solidifying the ongoing pop punk renaissance and their own legacy in 2024.
A band who have enamoured themselves in the scene for over a decade, Neck Deep remain continually capable of surprising and inspiring in a genre that so often lends itself to cookie cutter limitations or lacklustre innovation. Approaching their fifth album following the conceptual 2020 full length All Distortions Are Intentional, an album which once again snagged the quintet a #1 in the UK Rock and Indie charts, Neck Deep’s recording blossomed in the band’s own studio in Wales, with the return of bassist Seb Barlow producing and taking on the role of engineer; a fact made more enticing as it’s also the first time since the debut full length Wishful Thinking released back in 2014 that Barlow has been in the producer and engineer’s chair. But in place of immovable nostalgia dragging proceedings down, Neck Deep emerges as a sparkling and invigorating adventure. This is Neck Deep’s future, and we’re all just quite happily along for the ride.
… in place of immovable nostalgia dragging proceedings down, Neck Deep emerges as a sparkling and invigorating adventure. This is Neck Deep’s future, and we’re all just quite happily along for the ride.
Treading taut pop punk territory via its opener Dumbstruck Dumbfuck, Neck Deep emerges brandishing some of the group’s cemented sonic trademarks, while also ramping up with invigorating vocals, sharp guitars, and beats you could set your (probably) nonexistent analogue watch to. Also armed with entirely uplifting sentiments, Dumbstruck Dumbfuck leads into Sort Yourself Out; a track which doesn’t necessarily reinvent the pop punk trope, but damn does it brandish it well, careening with rollicking drums, emphatic vocals, and gleaming melodics that all combine into an infectious powder keg of good times.
Not content to rest on their more upbeat laurels, tracks like This Is All My Fault and It Won’t Be Like This Forever lean into more intimate territory, with lyrics that drag you headfirst back to first heartbreaks and youthful angst while offering a sparkling sonic shoulder to cry on, cry with, and/or cry alongside until the clouds part in the sky. And when (if?) you’re done crying and need some tunes to kickstart some empowering vibes, Neck Deep have got you entirely covered, from upbeat, relatable earworms (Heartbreak Of The Century) to jangly anthems (Go Outside! and Take Me With You) and textbook pop punk pearlers (They May Not Mean To (But They Do). And from more traditional tropes underpinning the album’s penultimate track, closing number Moody Weirdo is a fresher take on the modern-day Neck Deep sound without entirely leaving the vicinity that fans know and love the Wales bunch for at this point in the story.
For pop punk fans, Neck Deep come in hot with one of their most engaging and cohesive albums of late on their brand new self-titled release. The creamy harmonies are still present, as are the affable punk leanings, fast-paced moments, and sleek pop sensibilities that keep you coming back for more. Ultimately an album made entirely on their own terms, by them, for them, and for their fans who adore them (or may find them down the line), Neck Deep is equal parts exuberant and deeply intimate, avoiding, where possible, the cliches of Neck Deep’s influences and style to emerge with a relatable piece of work that can’t help but make you smile. “Do you like who you are”, ask Neck Deep on the album’s first track, and it’s clear that this is a band who definitely like and know who they are on album #5.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Dumbstruck Dumbfuck, This Is All My Fault, Take Me With You
STICK THIS NEXT TO: blink-182, New Found Glory, The Wonder Years
Neck Deep is out Friday 19 January via Hopeless Records.