Wrexham pop-punk five-piece, Neck Deep are looking to deliver something special with their fourth album, All Distortions Are Intentional, out Friday 24 July via Hopeless Records.

 Is there still a place for pop-punk in 2020? Can an ageing genre still excite and surprise and are Neck Deep the band to deliver?

All Distortions Are Intentional is something of a swing back to the bubbly melody and distorted riffs sound of Neck Deep’s debut and sophomore albums. They have shied away from the heavier rock resonance of their third release, The Peace and the Panic, which received a mixed response from fans. While the bands singles have fired off in a multitude of musical directions most retained that distinct Neck Deep sound. However, do not expect a revolutionary and bold musical progression, All Distortions Are Intentional delivers merely an unfussy evolved rather than revolutionised Neck Deep. Taking the fierce and angsty elements from their early releases and melding them with stronger pop sensibilities, means All Distortions Are Intentional becomes something of an album of two halves.

As a concept album, All Distortions Are Intentional narrates the tale of The Lowlife as they endeavour to through life’s rollercoaster in a fictional world called Sonderland. It is this location in which the album begins. While Sonderland is full of effervescent guitars and powerhouse rhythms, accompanied by melancholic vocals that tell of The Lowlife’s powerlessness to find his place in the world. Many of the album’s earlier tracks such as Lowlife and Telling Stories are characterised by this punky angst and tangible bitterness for the world at large.

 

However, Sonderland’s anthemic chorus is not the only track that dips into pop sensibilities. Quarry and What Took You So Long? also, combine a ton of catchy hooks with those sing-a-long choruses: undeniably more pop than punk-influenced but still, that maintaining something of an inoffensive ‘edge’. With the introduction of Alice to The Lowlife’s story, the album takes something of a hard turn. The tracks become more empathetic and lyrically more optimistic. Little Dove exposes The Lowlife’s feeling as to they find contentment in Alice: being neither saccharin nor contrived it does expose the musical styles Neck Deep are now creating with.

All Distortions Are Intentional, is an interesting album, one that could never be another Wishful Thinking or Life’s Not Out To Get You packed full of zesty neon coloured pop-punk anthems. Neck Deep is no longer that band they have matured, experienced new highs and new lows. And while there are still tracks that include their past infectious elements, All Distortions Are Intentional, is more about the exploration and expression of emotion. While some pop-punk devotees will be unimpressed with the multi-layered tracks. All Distortions Are Intentional has more to offer and to a much wider audience than their previous releases and one that can still deliver after repeat listens.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars