Neck Deep - Wishful Thinking
Record Label: Hopeless Records
Release Date: January 14, 2014
As a somewhat educated apprentice of pop-punk, one inevitably asks the question, "Shouldn't you just meet some new friends?" Lots of the problems detailed in an album like Neck Deep's debut Wishful Thinking could most likely be fixed by a simple change of scenery. Stop talking to girls in beanies and high heels! There's nothing cute about a Grey Goose keychain! I don't know, we were all young and some of us always will be. And it can certainly be excruciating to be constantly reminded over smashing drums and snotty vocals that the whole world is filled with garbage people. We take public transportation and wait in line at the grocery store; we don't need reminding.
But yet Neck Deep is just about the only thing I can listen to as of late. Ben Barlow keeps his sneer to a tolerable level and the guitars of Lloyd Roberts and Matt West jump the constraints of chug-chug bullshit quite regularly (see "Growing Pains" or "Crushing Grief (No Remedy)"). It's a pop-punk album for pop-punk fans, which is basically the point. End of review? Haha, you're not that lucky. It's unnecessary rant time.
Truth be told, I feel like every compliment I give these guys is supposed to have some sort of backhanded insult. It's not Neck Deep's fault people deride the genre, and it's not really my job to save it. But just because it's pop-punk and it's simple and it's angry, we're supposed to connect in secret. However, this stuff is just fucking fun and fast and oh-my-god-what-a-blast. After gorging on their Rain In July EP for what feels like my whole life, I figured this new one would snap me out of my spell, but it's just added to my Neck Deep habit. There's no point in going in-depth for something that is so comfortable being honest and transparent. Example: A song called "Damsel In Distress" has a chorus that says, "She's a witch / She's a mess / She's a waste of time." But oh boy it's done so well you'll be screaming it at your cat all night.
These guys have created a pop-punk album that isn't timeless, but that's not the point. Wishful Thinking, by design, tells the story of a point in time, one that only has meaning because it won't last. And other than the unfortunate re-recording of "What Did You Expect?", the band has succeeded in giving plenty of people the power to let it all out in the here and now. Music isn't mysterious. It's some melodies and harmonies and words we can create meaning around. Someone once said to me the best products are the ones you already know how to use, and I often feel that way about music. The best music is something you already know you'll love.