By Keegan James ’19
Hailing from Wales, Neck Deep, three years old, released their third album “Life’s Not Out to Get You” on Hopeless Records, to which they have been signed for two years. Neck Deep has risen fast and “Life’s Not Out to Get You” reflects their energy. Very similar to Neck Deep’s older material with the traditional pop punk themes of girls and friends, yet this album offers a shift in melodic structure. “Life’s Not Out to Get You” has more pop influences as opposed to their older, rawer material. This album reveals a mature more developed Neck Deep.
“Citizens of Earth” starts the album with a heavier feel that reveals the pace of the album. This pace is kept up for most of the album. The only song that differs from the fast pace nature is “December” which is a soft acoustic song about heartbreak, a traditional pop punk topic. However the rest of the album is faster with the focal point being the complex guitar patterns and unique use of cymbals within many songs. “Gold Steps,” one of the singles, uses very interesting cymbals and the repetitive guitar has a very upbeat tone that functions well with the song, refrains of “Life’s Not Out to Get you” provides a hopeful nature to this song. “Can’t Kick Up the Roots,” another single, is very catchy and is a tribute to getting stuck in your hometown.
My personal favorite songs on this album are “Threat Level Midnight” and “Kali Ma.”
“Threat Level Midnight” is, of course, a frequent topic on The Office, my favorite show so I immediately had a soft spot for this song. The lyrics are slightly cliche, bad situation with a girl yet your friends are there for you. The instrumentation is what I enjoy; the guitars are in a major key and make a slightly sad topic have a glimmer of hope while the drums are compressed and have a lot of drive pushing the song more and more. “Kali Ma” has a very California, West Coast vibe using chord progressions that one associates with that style. The chord progressions make this song and the chorus is very catchy.
Neck Deep talks a lot about “Generic Pop Punk.” They believe they represent the cliche of the genre. However their past albums were not reflective of the this label. Neck Deep managed to maintain a unique sound in a genre filled with a lack of uniqueness. “Life’s Not Out to Get You” is unique from their past work yet breaks from their past of being the creative side of Pop Punk. Neck Deep uses many generic methods of the genre in this album, such as the full band shouting the same lyric, the typical genre topics of bad relationships with girls, good friends, and escaping or praising their hometown. While this is a musically more advanced Neck Deep and I genuinely like this album, “Life’s Not to Get You” is a very traditional Pop Punk album that doesn’t necessarily have the traditional distinct Neck Deep sound.