No one anticipated that Man Overboard and Senses Fail would be friends. The self-proclaimed defenders of pop punk and the slightly elitist punk band from way back when? Who knew?
For that reason their union is particularly intriguing. It’s also interesting because the emo explosion of the 2000s has been diffused. Despite who they used to be, it’s hard to view Senses Fail and Man Overboard on the same wavelength. Therein lies this EP’s genius; it’s a somewhat nostalgic hark back to the glory days of Nielsen and the boys and an opportunity for this new batch of beanie-wearing, generic-pop-punk guardian kids to catch up on what they’ve been missing.
The covers are a good idea, contrasting the style of bands that have had an immense influence on punk-related scenes. Unlike what you’d expect, Man Overboard’s take on Senses Fail’s ‘Cute When You Scream’ is consistent with the song’s aggression, preserving its uncleans and its awkward, vengeful mood. It’s not dramatically divergent from the original –in fact, the accent of Man Overboard’s vocalist is pretty much all the difference you’re getting. Ironically, it stays so close to the original that it becomes unoriginal. How’s that for a paradox?
Senses Fail’s cover of Man Overboard’s ‘Real Talk’ is distinctly more contrasting. It’s heavier and lower, morphing into something that Senses Fail could have written. Yet, it’s nothing special. These tracks are just stocking fillers; nice to have, but forgettable.
On a different note, the original songs on the split are enjoyable and fun. Opener ‘One Fixed Point’ is a Man Overboard classic, with a catchy beat underpinning its pop punk bounce. Its angst is subtle and overt at alternative times, but overall it’s refreshingly darker than most of their discography. In that way, it fits into the EP, which wouldn’t do too well in accommodating the lovesick but fundamentally upbeat bangers that Man Overboard are known for producing.
Interestingly, the EP is like a progression into the heaviness that Senses Fail add to its mesh of post-hardcore and pop punk. ‘All You Need Is Already Within You’ is punky, antagonistic and hostile. As well as being the most vocal, it’s also the most affecting. Such an ability to make an impact is what continues to boost Senses Fail above their contemporaries, and it’s why we’re not left wondering why they’re still around.
Ultimately, this is a sampler of tracks, but it makes itself relevant by proving enjoyable. It’s not a necessary listen, but it’s not a waste of time – if you’re a Man Overboard or Senses Fail fan, you’ll find their individual efforts prove much more satisfying. Streaming should be sufficient; it’s unessential to listen again.
1. One Fixed Point (Man Overboard)
2. Cute When You Scream (Man Overboard)
3. All You Need Is Already Within You (Senses Fail)
4. Real Talk (Senses Fail)