Neck Deep – Wishful Thinking (13/1/14) Hopeless Records

By Mickey

Every review you read of these guys, in fact every write-up, is going to be name-dropping The Story So Far and The Wonder Years fairly sharpish, and with good reason. The similarities are inescapable, but alas those are the perils of modern pop punk, these boys knew what they were signing themselves up for.

The pop punk comeback party has been in full-swing for the last few years, so much so that it’s spilled onto main street. Artists like Fall Out Boy, Paramore and All Time Low that once led the scene have moved on to the green gra$$ pastures of mainstream chart success and left the young bucks trying to keep the party going forever. Any new names are fighting an eternal battle for their 15 minutes of fame against innumerable foes, with the ultimate prize a spot on the Warped Tour or maybe an Alternative Press cover.

Neck Deep then are the uninvited guests who turn up late to the party and don’t even bring their own booze. Their initial EPs produced cookie-cutter pop punk that proved a marmite moment for many, but provided a soundtrack for the online army they were quickly recruiting across social media sites. So should we be getting as excited about their debut album as their 50,000 Facebook likes suggest?

Don’t get your hopes up…. Lets play pop punk lyrical bingo! Living in a small town? Drinking until you pass out? Summer days? Girls? Not living up to said girl’s expectations? I’m not surprised they’ve found so many followers in just over a year. As far as inoffensive pop to be played loud to piss off the parents or drown out the other kids on the school bus goes, it’s teenager crack. The same addictive narcotic the twenty-somethings of today all got hooked on at one point or another in their formative years before either kicking the habit or moving on to harder and heavier bands.

‘Loosing Teeth’ is an appropriate opener to the album and epitomises why there’s no bite to this record. The guys are perfectly proficient musicians but the imagination is lacking, each track runs through the same family of riffs leading to a sing-a-long chorus, that can admittedly at times sweep you up in it’s youthful energy, but ultimately has no lasting effect. Dani Washington’s drums lend a small reprieve from the monotony at times, but stand long against the deluge. The band wear their influences proudly and for vocalist Ben Barlow this seems to mean adopting a Californian accent when he takes the stage, but that unfortunately is the norm for this style of pop punk and the result of years of conditioning.

Ultimately Neck Deep find themselves flying too close to the sun too soon right now and risk burning up their paper wings before they’ve really had a chance to find their own sound. But luckily for them they’ve got their devotees, who’ll be all too glad to catch them when they fall and back them in the future. That is until they grow bored of the scene, or find another golden calf.