Neck Deep – The Peace and the Panic Track By Track Album Review

Neck Deep – The Peace and the Panic Track By Track Album Review

Hailing from Wrexham, Wales, Neck Deep burst onto the pop-punk scene impressively fast. The quintet of singer Ben Barlow, bassist Fil Thorpe-Evans, rhythm guitarist Matt West, drummer Dani Washington and lead guitarist Lloyd Roberts started off just performing as a fun hobby, but after one EP they were offered a record deal from Hopeless Records. After their debut album Wishful Thinking was released, their fan base grew so rapidly that they decided to make the band their full-time gig. The touring wound up being so successful that they ended up working with A Day To Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon on their sophomore record. Despite the fact that their first album didn’t chart in America, the ensuing product, Life’s Not Out To Get You (LNOTGY)jumped all the way to #17 on the Billboard 200. In their native UK they jumped from #108 to #8 and cemented themselves as a major name in the rock scene. Now, two years later, the group has just released its highly anticipated third album, The Peace And The Panic (TPATP).

The band went through much transition in the span of these past two years, and the music has changed with it. Nine days after the LNOTGY release, Roberts was accused of sending inappropriate photos to an underage fan. He then promptly stepped down from the band as not to tarnish the other members’ reputation. He was later cleared of all charges, but his departure left a big impact, as he was both a co-founding member (along with Barlow) and someone very involved in the writing process. In addition, both Barlow and Thorpe-Evans lost their fathers. This turmoil made its way into their songwriting, because is TPATP much darker and more serious than its predecessor. It isn’t a total leftfield shift from their prior work, there are still plenty of fun jams, but the sound evolution is very evident. In interviews, Barlow talked about on how this album, everyone in the band had a hand in the writing, and that diversity shows as well. While LNOTGY was relatively homogenous in its sound, TPATP contains plenty of different styles. Here’s my analysis of each track:

  1. Motion Sickness- A bright and happy opener that is the most old-school ‘Neck Deep’ song, with all the explosive drum fills, chugging riffs and mosh-ability fans can dream of. 8/10
  2. Happy Judgment Day- Another pop-punk banger that features a sarcastic and cynical Barlow commenting on the state of the world and how terrible it’s become. It also happens to be catchy as hell. 8/10
  3. The Grand Delusion- A big, muscular rocker about inner insecurities. Some great riffs, but it doesn’t stand out or measure up to the bar set so high by the first two songs. 6/10
  4. Parachute- A love song that shows the first semblance of new territory, as the verses use a cleaner tone to channel more Dashboard Confessional than the traditional Blink. 7/10
  5. In Bloom- A mellow, mid-tempo song about trying to heal after a tragedy. Barlow showcases the highest and lowest ends of his vocal range in a song he probably wouldn’t have been able to sing two years ago. The pianos and violins make this the most epic hook on the album, and the entire band loves the song too. 10/10
  6. Don’t Wait- The heaviest track on the album, featuring tortured screams from Sam Carter of Architects. Killer verses unfortunately get derailed because the song lacks a memorable chorus. 6/10
  7. Critical Mistake- A cheeky and bouncy pop song about a failed relationship. The tambourines are a particularly fun touch. 8/10
  8. Wish You Were Here- A beautiful acoustic ballad about missing a loved one. Thorpe-Evans sounds great singing the verses. 8/10
  9. Heavy Lies- Not their best work. Also not helping is that it’s sandwiched between two ballads and is the third song in a row in the same key. This makes it seem like filler. 5/10
  10. 19 Seventy Sumthin’- The album’s big tearjerker. It’s written from the perspective of a father to his wife over the course of their lives together, but suddenly the illusion is shattered with his death by a heart attack. Then in the last chorus it’s Barlow, the son, trying to comfort his mother. 9/10
  11. Where Do We Go When We Go- The perfect ending of the entire album, a bright and driving song about wondering what happens after death. The previous album was titled Life’s Not Out To Get You, but this album closes with the line “I just want to get one up on life before it kills me”. 8/10

As a whole, the entire band has all grown as musicians quite well. Barlow’s vocals get stronger with each release, new guitarist Sam Bowden effortlessly slides into Roberts’ spot without a hitch, West (the self-anointed Power Chord Lord) and Thorpe-Evans lock down a tight rhythm, with the latter’s backing vocals more prevalent than ever before. Tying it altogether is drummer Washington, whose driving beats get augmented by rapid-fire fills and double-kick flourishes.

Neck Deep have perfectly kept one foot in the pop-punk box and put the other into slightly more experimental territory. The Peace And The Panic is a big step forward musically and lyrically, and their best work yet. Given how young the band still is, the directions they can take on future releases are endless, and if they continue putting out quality releases at each point, they won’t stop growing any time soon. I for one will be incredibly excited to see where they go when they go.

4/5

Arnim Whisler

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Get in touch.

Book a “free of charge” call with one of our industry consultants. A member of our team wants to hear about your music project right now. 

Similar posts.

More posts for you.