For Fans Of
Man Overboard aren’t so much a band as they are a cultural phenomenon at this point, with their ‘Defend Pop Punk’ motto unifying the scene into a worldwide renaissance. The New Jersey quintet has been propelled to the front lines of the genre on the back of several widely-acclaimed EP releases and their outstanding debut album ‘Real Talk’, and a catalogue as impeccable as theirs leaves a lot to live up to. On their self-titled sophomore release, Man Overboard continues their tried and tested formula of duelling vocals and hook-laden melodies, set against a template of strong, catchy instrumentation that will keep most fans of pop punk engaged with this album.
Stylistically, Man Overboard has always been a band that conveys a modern pop punk aesthetic in the purest sense, largely avoiding the melodic hardcore influences and rawer edge of peers like Such Gold in favour of a sound that is clean and highly accessible. At the same time, the band’s firm grasping of the musicality of veteran pop punkers and even certain elements of classic emo bands like The Promise Ring prevents the album from sounding excessively commercial. This is helped greatly by the album’s skilled production, helmed by New Found Glory rhythm guitarist Steve Klein. Klein plays to the band’s strengths, highlighting the exhilarating, punk-enthused vibe of tracks like ‘Rare’ and ‘Something’s Weird’ with loud, overdriven guitars, whilst still allowing the band’s melodic sensibilities to be the album’s overarching force.
The band’s trademark spin on the familiar elements of modern pop punk comes out in full force on ‘Man Overboard’, with the dynamic between dual vocalists Nik Bruzzese and Zac Eiestenstein proving again to be the band’s most distinguishing characteristic. Bruzzesse and Eistenstein are both accomplished singers who have a strong sense of melody, frequently juxtaposing a lower-register line with soaring, powerful choruses that punctuate strongest on standout tracks like ‘Punishment’ and ‘Spunn’. The vocals are littered with the band’s signature one-sentence punchlines and hooks that assault the listener with impassioned emotionality, and while rarely poetic, the lyrics are always honest and highly relatable, with brief glimpses of intense poignancy like on closing track ‘Atlas’. The album’s highlight is the interplay between Bruzzese and Eistenstein, whose utilisation of captivating harmonies and call-and-response vocal techniques gives tracks like ‘Headstone’ considerable melodic depth, anchored by crooning “woah-ohs” and repeated lower-octave lines.
The songwriting and instrumentation on the album doesn’t do much to differentiate from the formulas that the band laid out and cemented with ‘Hung Up On Nothing’ and polished to a mirror shine with ‘Real Talk’. Fans of the band that arrive expecting some degree of experimentation will be disappointed by the lack of progression the band has made on this album, and this detracts from the overall listening experience. However, the band is still impeccable at crafting varied, dynamic and catchy pop punk songs and hone their skills wonderfully on the album. The tracks are heavily chord-based, but display occasional moments of catchy, hook-driven instrumentation, like the clean-cut riffs on ‘Spunn’ and ‘Punishment’. The album also paces itself well, balancing fast-paced, breakneck and high-energy songs like ‘Rare’ and ‘Something’s Weird’ with a slower, tender side that shines through strongest on ‘Dead End Dreams’ and ‘Atlas’, keeping the album varied and musically entertaining.
On their sophomore album, Man Overboard doesn’t try to reinvent themselves and continues with the same musical ideas that brought them to the forefront of the pop punk scene in the first place. The album makes up for its lack of progression with a powerhouse of hook-driven, duelling vocal melodies, hard-hitting punchlines and consistently strong, well-paced songwriting that will engage most fans of the genre.
3. Voted Most Likely
4. Dead End Dreams
5. Somethings Weird
7. Not The First
10. Picture Perfect
11. Night Feelings