Three years only after their debut album, Wishful Thinking, British pop-punk’s rising stars Neck Deep are back again with their third record, The Peace and the Panic (TPATP). This is a much-anticipated release, as their previous one (Life’s Not Out To Get You, 2015) has been met with both critical and commercial success. Since then, the band’s been touring the world with State Champs, All Time Low, Sleeping With Sirens, Pierce The Veil or earlier this year with A Day To Remember. So we can legitimately say that TPATP is awaited by a fair amount of fans around the world.
In the weeks prior to the release of the album, out this Friday (08/15), the band has released four singles, which gave us a taste of what changes we had to expect on this new album, which are a most polished sound, especially when it comes to Ben Barlow’s vocals. Even though his skills had already evolved, he eventually lost this nasal voice that he’s been having in the band’s first releases in particular. In Bloom shows us his best side, as the man delivers a solid performance, as it seems that he’s now aware of his vocal skills, and uses it in a better way than ever before.
Speaking of vocals, something that’s been teased in the last few days online is the presence of Architects’ Sam Carter in the track Don’t Wait, which is the most aggressive song of the album. This kind of song reminds you that the Wrexham crew has been working with Jeremy from A Day To Remember on their last album, not only because of the use of screamed vocals, but the whole vibe of this song brings more of an alt-rock feeling than straight pop-punk. This featuring is a good surprise, in the middle of what’s the softest Neck Deep album to date.
As it’s just been mentioned, this is indeed the band’s poppier release, which comes mainly from the change in terms of production, but while some old-school fans will be disappointed (every change in any band’s career has been met with some old school fans stopping listening to this band right ?), this evolution is nothing but a right move for the band, as their sound is maturing with every release, and this isn’t the sound of a band seeking for a commercial success, this sounds like a band playing the music they want to be playing. In The Peace and the Panic, Neck Deep wanted to experiment some new things, and you can hear some influences, such as Simple Plan for the chorus’ melody and the clean guitar during the verses in Critical Mistakes for example, or even Bayside and this nostalgic vibe in 19 Seventy Sumthin’, in which Barlow has a little sumthin’ that reminds of Anthony Ranieri’s voice.
As every pop-punk record, one point that’s not missing is catchiness. All songs are accessible, and even though there’s a chance that some songs will grow on the listener along with the number of listens, every track -if you like the band- will make you want to sing along from the first second.
Highlights on this record are The Great Delusion and its simple-yet-infectious pop-punk guitar riff, and of course a huge chorus, because Neck Deep. Don’t Wait, apart from having a real screamed vocals spot (yeah, we’re looking at you, Jeremy McKinnon, and your fake featuring vocals on the last album!), has something that makes it become one of the strongest songs on the album ! In Bloom shows a sense of melody that we wouldn’t necessarily have guessed from the Welsh five-piece band and that’s very welcomed as summer is still on for a few weeks ! And of course, Where Do We Go When We Go, one of the two first songs revealed, has the potential to become a fan favorite, with this children choir, a sunny pop-punk vibe, and a catchy chorus.
Without bringing many surprises to the table, Neck Deep are releasing a very solid effort that proves that the band has still a lot to offer, and that they are one of the most talented bands in this young pop-punk scene that emerged a few years ago with the likes of Real Friends, State Champs ROAM and many more.
Rating : 9/10
You can still pre-order the album following THIS LINK
You can catch the band on tour in the US in 2018 :
Tickets are available at https://www.ndsoundcheckclub.com/