Review by Nicole DiBenedetto

August 14, 2015 – Neck Deep – Life’s Not Out to Get You

After about a year and a half, UK Pop Punk band, Neck Deep, are back at it again with a new album, produced by Andrew Wade, Tom Denny, and A Day to Remember’s Jeremy Mckinnon. Fans of the band’s previous work will have no trouble warming up to the familiar pop punk sound of Life’s Not Out to Get You. The album places a heavy emphasis on its lyrical content and energy.  Life’s Not Out to Get You starts off with a very punk feel in the song “Citizens of Earth.” The track contains a few smooth transitions from a 4/4 feel into a half time feel. The entire song works as an opening statement to the full album. Many tracks such as “Threat Level Midnight”, “Lime Street”, and “Serpents” have fast paced sections worthy of any circle pit. “Gold Steps”, the most recent single from the album, encompasses the entire message of the album: Life’s not out to get you. The track keeps a hopeful message with lyrics such as “I’ve been moving mountains that I once had to climb.” and “Someday you’ll stand above your demons.”

The album starts to slow down from its high paced sound in the beginning by the halfway point with a track titled “Serpents.”  “Serpents” provides a nice vocal contrast with predominantly lower pitched vocals during the verses as opposed to Ben Barlow’ssignature higher pitched vocals. There is a very clear shift of style at this point, from speedy, rushed rhythms to a more relaxed, normal pace. The track begins the transition to the ballad on the album, “December.”

“December” opens up with a beautiful acoustic guitar that sets the scene for three and a half minutes of heartbreak and heartache. The song drips with the longing for best wishes of someone sought after. The chorus comes in with the lyrics “I hope you get your ball room floor, your perfect house with rose red doors. I’m the last thing you’d remember. It’s been a long lonely December.” The emotional energy emitted from this track outweighs that of any of the other tracks. Starting with simply guitar and vocals, the song swells to a fuller sound at the end, slowly adding layers every verse and chorus. By the end, the song has added new elements such as strings, some percussive features, and a second vocal line proclaiming “I miss you” in the background. “December” is simple, haunting, and beautiful all at the same time.

The album starts to pick back up to its “second half sound” again after “December”, ending with a conclusive track “Rock Bottom.” The last line of the whole album, “Resurrect and start again”, leaves the listener reaching for the play button once more to restart the album. All in all, the album is cohesive from beginning to end and almost feels as though the listener is opening and closing a book. It’s surely worth a listen for any pop punk lover out there.

FFO: The Story So Far, Real Friends, Knucklepuck