Welsh pop-punk legends in Neck Deep have released their fifth full-length record, which is self-titled. It marks their first album since 2020’s ‘All Distortions Are Intentional’. It’s also noted this is the first Neck Deep album that bassist (and producer of the record) Seb Barlow is featured on bass, as well as drummer Matt Powles and his first contribution on this record. The band returns to what they’ve been so good at and known for, good ol’ fashioned pop-punk and it shows in spades all throughout this album. It also carries from the last record of vocalist Ben Barlow‘s newfound high range and applies it so incredibly well to these ten tracks.
The record kicks off with an absolute band, with “Dumbstruck Dumbf**k”. This track might be my personal favorite off the whole album, as it scratches that straight up pop-punk itch for me that I’d need each year from a band. The chorus is a pure example of Ben using his range to the best of his ability, and this is sure to be an earworm to many fans of the band. Neck Deep have a knack of having insane opening songs, as they have with the last couple of records and this one adds to that beautifully. It’s one track I truly hope they incorporate into their live sets going forward. The record continues the insane energy with “Sort Yourself Out”, which goes right into some fast-paced pop-punk in the best way. The drums delivered by Powles might be the best on this whole record, and it captures the energy this band is known for beautifully. Just like a line delivered in it, the chorus for this song is absolutely dynamite and might be the best on this overall. The fact this record starts off with these two tracks is wild to me, pop-punk bands for the rest of the year have stiff competition for sure here. We’re on a roll here, especially with the next track with “This Is All My Fault”. This song out of all the ones on here remind me the most of Blink-182, especially with the riff during the verses and the drums too. And the trend also continues with huge choruses, this band just knows how to write a good chorus like the back of their hand. This one also feels like it harkens back a bit to their first record, ‘Wishful Thinking’, which is a decade old now.
The craziness and energy doesn’t stop as we reach the next track, with “We Need More Bricks”. This was the fourth single off he record, and it’s wild how this wasn’t released earlier. The instrumentals to this song overall show why this band is huge in their genre and they stand tall amongst their peers, especially that intro. It’s them showing how it’s done when it comes to pop-punk. The lyrics dive into more political themes and it definitely stands out lyrically in regards to the rest of the record. Shoutout to the lyric “Just because it’s not on your own doorstep doesn’t make it right”. It definitely speaks a lot to what’s going on in the world right now, so shoutout to this song. We keep on going with the big feeling to this record with the first single, with “Heartbreak of the Century”. Listening to this record a few times now, I thought this one would be my least favorite since I wasn’t a fan of the mix on the original from a year ago. But the production is re-recorded here to fit the rest of the record and it sounds so much better. This song will without a doubt be a staple in their sets going forward. I cannot believe how non-stop the first half of this record is, these songs are meant to be on full blast on a warm summer day. Huge choruses, energetic instrumentals, fun lyrics, and catchy melodies for days. We’re followed by a more dance-y kind of song, with “Go Outside!”. Speaking of summer, this one really fits that vibe incredibly well obviously in the title but also with how the verses are designed and the little elements around it are placed. I appreciate it also follows the vibe of the previous two tracks, it flows really nicely. The bridge truly goes in hard too, it builds up to it from the verses and choruses pretty seamlessly.
As we’re in the thick of the back half of the album, we reach the second single with “Take Me With You”. This one is a pretty fun song about aliens and leaning into the pop-punk stereotype of that and they pull it off nicely. It’s not a favorite when it comes to this album, but it’s still a fun song regardless as it’s grown on me since they dropped it last year. Powles‘ drumming here sticks out in a great way too, he’s a great addition to the band. We’re followed up with “They May Not Mean To (But They Do)”, which has more of a 90’s feel to it. This one’s probably one of the lesser tracks for me on here since I feel it doesn’t fit the vibe of the album, even though I appreciate the sentiment delivered in the lyrics. People having gone through dealing with parents and living up to their expectations and the pressure that comes with it I’m sure is something a lot of people can relate to, so shoutout to that. We reach the penultimate track and the third single, with “It Won’t Be Like This Forever”. This one is easily one of my favorite tracks on here, as it finds the best version of what Neck Deep discovered on ‘All Distortions Are Intentional’. I feel as Ben‘s voice really fits this kind of song and it works incredibly well in the verses, and especially that bridge where it shines so well. I also wanna give a shoutout to how great the production on this record sounds, it’s the perfect kind of mix for a pop-punk album in 2023 for a band like this. We finally close out the album with a more vibe-oriented song, with “Moody Weirdo”. This track really reminds me of a band like Bearings, who they’re going on tour with soon funny enough. I just think it’s such an interesting song and a different kind of energy for them. The lyrics are pretty decent too with “ride your own wave” being a line that sticks out in the chorus and one to take away from it. The bridge with the distorted vocals, then going silent before going back into the chorus one more time feels like an inspired choice too.
All in all, this self-titled record is a really solid addition to Neck Deep‘s discography. It’s the kind of record that would thrive in warmer environments and it shows why this band is such a staple in pop-punk. They still got fight and the energy in them that people love them dearly for, and this album proves it at every turn. Ben Barlow sounds incredible here, getting to flex his vocal range that’s grown exponentially since 2012. And everyone in this band does an incredible job at delivering what I’d say is the top dog of this specific kind of pop-punk.
Check out the video for “Dumbstruck Dumbf**k” right here.