For Fans Of
No one can attribute the fault of inconsistency to Man Overboard. Their ability to retain a loyalty to their pop punk roots for so long is admirable, and exemplified in every song the band has produced. Be it tempo, guitar tones or vocals, the band has mastered the genre to boot. Overall, it’s nice to be able to rely on them for that in a current musical landscape where radical change is surprisingly, a norm.
New LP, ‘Heavy Love’, is a continuation of Man Overboard’s stable capacity to drop solid releases. Admittedly, it’s packed with songs that are par for the course, like ‘Reality Check’, which has Taking Back Sunday vibes woven through its catchy playout. Similarly, ‘Splinter’ recalls Blink-182, particularly in the vocal interchanges of Nik Bruzzese and Zac Eisenstein, which are also spotlighted on easycore jam ‘Anything’.
As is the way with Man Overboard, there are some forgettable tracks on the record, but it is also home to some of the best songs of their career. ‘Cliffhanger’ is one of them, with a fast tempo and important lyrical themes like those enshrined in ‘wishing I could understand what it takes to be a man’. This song also highlights a self-actualised maturity with the line ‘I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’m depressed’. For those who can track the struggles of Man Overboard through their lyrics, that’s a satisfying admission. Having said that, ‘Cliffhanger’ isn’t the most sincere song on the record – that title goes to ‘Invisible’. Lower guitar sounds equip the track with a serious feel, and its raw vocals advance its resonance. It wins out in the constant pull of this record between generic and genuine, and even though bubblegum tunes like ‘She’s In Pictures’ are still enjoyable, they don’t give ‘Heavy Love’ weight like these ones do.
Confident, realist swinger ‘Deal’ sums up what you have to do with this record: deal with Man Overboard’s ‘imperfections’. Yes, they’re consistent, but the consequence of that is that if you crammed their discography onto one mega-album it would still sound cohesive and unquestionable. Having accepted that, it’s much easier to jam out to the diamonds in the rough.
The story of Man Overboard’s refined ownership of pop punk is similar to the life of a mail man: they always deliver. That’s the reason that fans still represent ‘defend pop punk’ shirts even though they don’t know what they’re ‘defending pop punk’ from, and it’s the reason that despite the fact that we’ve probably heard 90% of this record before, we’re absolutely going to play it again.