Release Date: January 19, 2023 Genre: Pop Punk Label: Hopeless Records
British pop-punk titans Neck Deep have returned with their self-titled fifth studio album via Hopeless Records. The band, who consists of vocalist Ben Barlow, guitarists Sam Bowden and Matt West, bassist Seb Barlow, and the band's brand new drummer Matt Powles – who initially joined the band as a touring drummer for the outfit throughout 2022 and 2023. The band's new album is a return to form for the band in many ways. Sticking to a sound and a few songwriting methods that just feel right for the group, the band enlisted bassist Seb Barlow to produce the record, but that didn't mean the band couldn't have their heads peeking over Seb's shoulder as the album was being recorded to give their ideas to the songs on Neck Deep's latest effort. The band's fifth studio album opens with the profoundly catchy and riffy number, “Dumbstruck Dumbfuck.” The track opens the album with the precise sound and energy Neck Deep have come to be known for. Next up on the self-titled project is the fast-paced and immensely punk rock-inspired track, “Sort Yourself Out.”
The band slows it down with the track “This Is All My Fault.” However, it's still got that electric, powerful shine to it that Neck Deep continues to provide to listeners. Following this stunning heartfelt tune, the band delivers the politically charged single and amply titled track, “We Need More Bricks.” Vocalist Ben Barlow states that the song sees the band at its political best. The song touches on everything from the monarchy, immigration, protest laws, and international wars. As the band says, "We find ourselves at a cross-section in the zeitgeist where bricks could be used to build something or to be destructive." On the song, the band is calling on punks and those that want to make a difference, to do so. As well as being their most poignant political track to date, it also features Ben's favourite riff and breakdown they've ever written, with a mosh call that, he hopes, makes the listener think about their role in the world, and to speak up, take action on the many injustices the world faces today. Originally released on Valentine's Day of 2023, the anthemic single and anti-love song “Heartbreak Of The Century” follows such a poignant track and the band details how some heartbreaks are so hurtful that maybe you could win an award for it – as they jokingly portray in the song's music video.
“Take Me With You” lets the band deliver another catchy tune while giving a little nod to their heroes in Blink 182 and drawing plenty of inspiration from Blink's massive hit “Aliens Exist.” The band -in common with Blink's frontman and guitarist Tom Deloge- are huge self-described “UFO heads,” so they had an ultimate thrill writing such a song about how they'd rather get abducted by aliens and no longer deal with things going on this hellish planet we know as Earth.
As the band's latest effort comes to a close, we get a couple more tracks to send us through the 'motions. “It Won't Be Like This Forever” is yet another reminder from Neck Deep that as much as you feel like you're falling into a dark place, there's always light that will break the darkness and that better days will come. Additionally, how you don't have to go through it alone and have friends, family, or a significant other to help you through whatever you're going through.
Closing out the album, the band pulls a bit away from pop-punk altogether and delivers a full-force rock number titled “Moody Weirdo.” Sonically, the track still showcases that Neck Deep spark, but overall showcases a very mature-sounding Neck Deep. Lyrically, “Moody Weirdo” is similar to the previous track and details how making any sort of change can be extremely hard, but you can go through it with someone's help to make it easier for you. Overall, Neck Deep's self-titled album is a strong addition to their growing discography, showcasing their evolution as a band while staying true to their roots. With its memorable hooks, heartfelt lyrics, and infectious energy, this album is sure to please both longtime fans and newcomers alike.