Neck Deep

Neck Deep

Neck Deep have never been afraid to explore, regularly seeding sounds and ideas from other genres into their pop-punk foundations. The Wrexham, Wales, band were at their most adventurous on their fourth album, 2020’s All Distortions Are Intentional: Setting the songs in a conceptual world called Sonderland, they nosed around in indie rock and Britpop while reflecting on identity, mental health, and disenfranchisement. However, this intrepid spirit stalled under lockdown, and when restrictions lifted, the five-piece struggled to find that momentum again. “We had to rediscover ourselves a little bit, post-COVID,” singer Ben Barlow told Mark Hoppus on Apple Music 1’s After School Radio. “It took us a little bit to build back up and figure out where we were gonna go.” Even by the time Neck Deep stationed themselves in LA to record this self-titled fifth album in 2023, there was still uncertainty. After just a few weeks’ work, all they’d forged was a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction. The music didn’t sound right, so they decided to strip away outside influences and start again by returning to their own studio in Wrexham, where the other Barlow brother, bassist Seb, took on production duties. It’s little surprise then that Neck Deep marks a return to the exhilarating and simple blend of melody and adrenalin that characterized their earliest records. “It’s straight-up pop-punk, just short, sharp, to the point, in your face,” said Ben. “We just simplified, took a step back, looked at where we came from and what we loved about the music that we write. It’s always been about hard-hitting, fast, pacy anthems that are catchy, can help you through a bad time and be the soundtrack to your good times. We’re really at peace with ourselves—let’s just be a straight-up pop-punk band and do what we do.” What’s different now is their music carries the wisdom of age and experience, and Ben’s lyrics present more shades and nuance as he explores his relationship with his parents (“They May Not Mean to [But They Do]”), urges self-belief in times of frustration and vulnerability (“Moody Weirdo”), and raises an insurrectionary call to make a difference in a turbulent world (“We Need More Bricks”). “It’s just life, love, relationships, myself, lots of looking inward,” he says. “I’m looking at how I was as a kid and who I am now. All I know is I know nothing, and I’m just a fool in a crazy world—dealing with normal things. While we’re a successful band, I’m a pretty normal dude: My life revolves around my band, my future wife, and my dogs. So, hopefully, I’m relatable—and that’s always been something I look for in music.”

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