For Fans Of
There’s no skirting around it: the expectations everyone had for Neck Deep’s sophomore LP ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ were pretty damn high. First and foremost, the question is posed: do they live up to them? We’re sorry to disappoint you, but the answer is no, not quite.
‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ has a promising start, being the track ‘Citizens of Earth’, which sounds like the band is mapping out the hundredth easycore revival while jamming out to Madball. Unfortunately, putting your best foot first is a technique that bands like Neck Deep should be wary of, because the unexpected jam that is that track, what with its catchy chorus, its Such Gold-esque fire, its sassy kick and its epic start stop, just sets the band up for a situation where it all goes downhill.
Though its opener towers over the rest of its songs, it’s not the only good track. ‘Gold Steps’ is an empowering and positive few minutes, forging a direct connection between band and listener and reflecting a glass half full with lines like, ‘I’ve been moving mountains that I once had to climb’. The very Mayday Parade sounding ‘December’ and the dynamism of closer ‘Rock Bottom’ also offer promise.
So what’s the problem, you ask, cheery reader? The problem is in the rest of the album, and we’ll give it to you straight: Neck Deep are knee deep in clichés. Most of the songs on this record could have been found on the last effort from The Story So Far or from Handguns, and although they’re enjoyable, and they’d still be great to chant to live, it does make their ability to be memorable virtually non-existent. Features that could have been otherwise emphasised, like lyricism and instrumental talents, are lost on our ears because half of these tracks don’t even sound like any effort was put in. ‘Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors’ tries to reach out of the box, but doesn’t quite make it. Not even A Day to Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon’s guest on ‘Kali Ma’ can offer this album salvation.
There’s a cocktail of different sounds on this full-length, mainly attributable to other bands: Such Gold, A Day To Remember, Hit The Lights, The Story So Far. That’s not to say that Neck Deep are copying anyone; it’s just that their identifying sound is drowned out by recycled techniques and unconcealed influences. The best moments on this album are absolutely unexpected and unquestionably exciting, but there aren’t enough of them to make up for the rest of it. Suffice to say, there’s a point where being the embodiment of generic pop punk turns from a strength into a weakness.
1. Citizens Of Earth
2. Threat Level Midnight
3. Can’t Kick Up The Roots
4. Kali Ma
5. Gold Steps
6. Lime St.
8. The Beach Is For Lovers (Not Lonely Losers)
10. Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors
11. I Hope This Comes Back To Haunt You
12. Rock Bottom