Neck deep in good tunes

By: Chloë Williams
Featured image by Jordan Stephenson

Hey, Tigers! It’s a great day to dig into some brand-new music, and I have the perfect new release to review. On Aug. 18, pop-punk band Neck Deep dropped its third full-length album, “The Peace and the Panic.”

This record will resonate with fans of blink-182’s hit album, “California,”and any listeners looking for a message alongside the music. “The Peace and the Panic” explores diverse themes including: existentialism, politics and struggles of the modern world. The album is crafted in such a way that listeners are taken through a melodic journey that transcends between lighter and heavier tracks with ease.

The album begins with “Motion Sickness,” firing away with a catchy guitar hook and hopeful bridge promising, “You’re on your way.” The song speaks out to the little voice inside all of us wondering if we really can accomplish lofty goals.

Next up is “Happy Judgement Day,” a politically-packed single poking sharp jabs at ideas of “building walls,” engaging in warfare, and consuming biased media. This track holds a bouncing, recurring guitar line and a resonating key change to drive the issue (and song) home.

“The Grand Delusion” is a lighter track that kicks in with a head-banging guitar line. Singer Ben Barlow plays with diction and rhythm to create lyrics that move both quickly and slowly in the same verse. The bridge holds electronic qualities and an ambient guitar line transcending into a harder-edged cry out “from holding it all in.”

Next is my personal favorite, “Parachute,” which centers largely around upbeat ideas of freedom and love. Perhaps the most attractive feature of this track is the soft and sincere bridge that builds in momentum, changing into a desperate yearning to “break out and get away.”

A radio clip precedes the entrance of “In Bloom,” reminding us of the album’s previous political messages, but setting the stage for new issues to arise. The chorus is crafted so that it bounces freely, creating a lighthearted mood. The track fades away with clean, ambient guitar-playing, leaving the listener with a nostalgic feeling.

In “Don’t Wait (feat. Sam Carter)” we are thrown into a driving, edgy piece that demands your attention. Here, we return to a harsh critique of politics and media consumption. A somewhat tonal guitar line is accompanied by clear drum hits to create a complex auditory experience.

“Critical Mistake” begins with a humorous voicemail letting us know we can take a break from the heavy issues for a while. This song features a clean guitar line, bouncy lyrics and the relatable theme of dealing with a difficult relationship.

“Wish You Were Here” is a track to take listeners back to school days and the summertime. Imagery of photographs and wistful moments long gone follow through the somber acoustic guitar, longing vocals and driving percussion.

Fading in from the last track are the slowly rising guitar lines of “Heavy Lies.” The drum beat is sure to inspire some head-bobbing, while lyrics will relate to thoughts of late nights with a new love. The bridge is introduced with a high-energy instrumental section followed by gently spoken lyrics that transform into a bright reinstatement of the original chorus.

Possibly the most emotional song of “The Peace and the Panic,” “19 Seventy Sumthin’” describes the loss of a loved one and the importance of family. After hearing light percussive shakers and sweet, chiming guitar, the song changes to a darker atmosphere. As the intensity progresses it is easy to identify with Barlow’s cry out to overcome and persevere through difficult times.

The final track, “Where Do We Go When We Go,” introduces a guitar pattern before transitioning it into a chugging rhythmic accompaniment. The drum provides a head-banging backbeat and a moving bassline can be easily distinguished. This track tells the story of an existential awakening as Barlow makes his final statement on the record, “I just wanna get one up on life before it kills me.”

“The Peace and the Panic” demonstrates everything that, to me, is right with modern pop-punk, destroying the stereotype that rock music is “just noise.” Neck Deep manages to craft diverse and mature instrumental work while pairing thoughtful and important messages designed to make the listener think. This album is not just another record to nod along to (though who can resist?), but is also an intelligent art-piece that any given listener should not walk away from unimpacted.

This Week’s Tiger Tracks:                                

  1. “Parachute” by Neck Deep
  2. “Fire and the Flood” by Vance Joy
  3. “I Wanna Go Out” by American Authors
  4. “One of Us” by New Politics
  5. “Ashes” by New Beat Fund
  6. “Seven Circles” by Statues of Cats
  7. 7. “Where Do We Go When We Go” by Neck Deep

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