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Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Adam Steinhauer, Marketing Director • May 10, 2024
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Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Adam Steinhauer, Marketing Director • May 10, 2024
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Eagle Spirit dancer Migizii Kwe dances with the audience at this years East Lansing Art Festival. Photo credit: Samantha Ku/WDBM
2024 East Lansing Art Festival Q&A
Samantha Ku, Writer/Volunteer • May 18, 2024

Heather Majano is the Art Festival & Arts Initiative Coordinator under the East Lansing Parks, Recreation & Arts department, she...

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Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Goodbye, MSU | Adam Steinhauer
Adam Steinhauer, Marketing Director • May 10, 2024
View All
Eagle Spirit dancer Migizii Kwe dances with the audience at this years East Lansing Art Festival. Photo credit: Samantha Ku/WDBM
2024 East Lansing Art Festival Q&A
Samantha Ku, Writer/Volunteer • May 18, 2024

Heather Majano is the Art Festival & Arts Initiative Coordinator under the East Lansing Parks, Recreation & Arts department, she...

Album Review | Neck Deep by Neck Deep

Album+Review+%7C+Neck+Deep+by+Neck+Deep

Quintessential to the 2010s’ pop-punk revival, Neck Deep has released some of the best music in their genre of all time. The success has not come without its struggles though. The band’s most recent release prior to the new self-titled LP, All Distortions Are Intentional, was received by critics and fans as a mixed bag; some people loved it and others thought it was okay. The album was a step away from the classic pop-punk sound they had and went for some more experimental and psychedelic sounds, which was not what they were ultimately known for. The group’s newest release was hyped up by the band to be a return to form with blasting, energetic pop-punk all throughout. This album accomplishes its goals very well. It is nonstop pop-punk in its purest form with a feeling similar to that of Blink-182 or Sum 41. It is a step towards the band regaining the sound that they became famous for with a more upbeat and goofy tone overall. 

Bursting from the seams with energy, “Dumbstruck Dumbf**k” is an embodiment of energy and a showcase of what Neck Deep is all about, energetic pop-punk to keep you on your feet. The guitar immediately shouts at us to listen as lead singer Ben Barlow soon joins in to ask:

How many scars have you got? /

How many tears have you dropped? /

Suffering /

Do you like who you are? /

Yeah, do you like who you are? /

I’m struggling to be the man that you want /

But I’ll give what I got /

Promises /

I really like who you are /

I really like who you are.

Every word packs a punch and comes soaring to bombard listeners with the immense energy oozing from Barlow. To sum it up, this song is electric, making you want to two-step like all your other favorite punk tunes. This song sets the tone for the entire album telling listeners bluntly that Neck Deep is back, and they mean business. Not to mention the ever-so-catchy chorus with the pitch being taken up a notch, and the words being belted with pure passion: 

Before I surrender /

At least can I get a little /

Something to remember before we say goodbye? /

Don’t be so hollow, don’t be so dead inside /

Those tees I borrowed, you’ll never get ’em back, goodbye.

The high bar established from “Dumbstruck Dumbf**k” rolls on as the second track, “Sort Yourself Out,” matches the energy and tones while being a creative spin on the traditional breakup song, which Neck Deep is no stranger to. Lighting flashes as the drums are blasted with enough power to bring a house down. The guitar ensues; the music has begun, and so has the breakup story being told to us. 

But did you notice how I’m feeling? /

I thought you might feel the same /

Going back and losing track so I repeat myself again /

I’ve made mistakes /

You’ve broken promises /

I could win a f–king medal for the most apologies.

Pure anger is poured out in the lyrics, but to listeners, it is handed to us as frustration and, ultimately, delivered in a goofy tone. The song isn’t taking the breakup too seriously but is annoyed at the situation and is making fun of it. It is much easier, I find, for an audience to relate to a song like this that is more focused on making the best of a situation and throwing in some humor even in a time like a breakup or dispute. It feels so much more realistic rather than all the sappy heartbreak songs we are accustomed to. In the end, all of the anger culminates in the outro with the priceless lyrics: 

And to be honest, it’s not really much to do with fucking flowers /

When you stay up for hours doing nothing /

F–king drank all my kombucha /

Play dumb just cause it suits ya /

Sort yourself out /

Sort yourself out.

Skipping down the tracklist to the fourth tune, we land at “We Need More Bricks,” an uplifting and hopeful song. It is a shift away from the goofiness without sacrificing the vigorous delivery and instrumentals. Instead, the band delivers a politically driven banger. Opening similar to many of the previous songs with drums thumping into listeners chests and guitars racing across the track, Ben Barlow opens: 

A symptom of the state /

A consequence of madness /

An overwhelming sense of an underlying sadness /

The rain on the parade will only soak the ballots /

The kids are wide awake /

And they rage against the palace.

Neck Deep is calling for change, and this isn’t new. Many of their previous works have stated the band’s disdain for the current state of politics all over the world — from their home of the U.K. to the United States. The group wants change, and their outlet is music, using their platform to spread awareness of the fallacies they and so many others see. But, that message doesn’t diminish the quality and the catchy chorus with Ben Barlow singing: 

“Gotta get back up /

When you’ve been on the way down /

There’s a spark, there’s a light /

There’s a will, there’s a way out /

It could be so tight, it could be so sick /

It just ain’t right and it just ain’t this /

We need more fight and we need more grit /

We need more punks and we need more bricks.”

Soon after, we embark upon “Heartbreak of the Century,” which might be the biggest earworm off the entire album. The piece was the first single, released on Feb. 15, 2023, to garner some hype for the upcoming album and crush the hearts of every single person right after Valentine’s Day. 

Emerging from the silence, distorted guitars rip into listeners, and the band gets straight into it. There’s no second wasted — drums hold beat as the heartbreak ballad ensue, 

Distraction will be the death of me, oh /

Assumption is the mother of all f–k-ups /

And I’ve been assuming that things are all working out /

But this won’t be the first time that I’ve been wrong about you.

A breath is taken, but the next verse follows with guitars chugging along in the back: 

You’re so smart /

But my love just ain’t enough /

Baby, that’s okay /

I was thinking about f–king myself anyway.

Tension builds as the band readies to unleash all their pent-up emotions all together in the chorus with the undeniable hook: 

It’s not like me to be so weak /

You got me good, you cut me deep /

It’s honestly, probably /

The heartbreak of the century.

The writing and delivery are tongue and cheek, gushing with personality. The blunt, over-the-top delivery just adds to the playful tone. Overall, it’s just a joy to listen to and reminiscent of all the pop-punk greats who came before Neck Deep. 

As if Neck Deep couldn’t already have given listeners enough to smile about, they give us the most amusing song on the album two songs later: “Take Me With You.” The album covers everything from heartbreak to politics, and this just adds the cherry on top as “Take Me With You” is, of course, about aliens. Just like Blink-182’s lead singer Tom Delonge, frontman Ben Barlow loves his tin foil hats and all things aliens. 

Clicking drums open as a simple bouncy guitar riff accompanies:

Is anybody up there? /

In a ship from outer space /

Yeah, I know that you’re up there /

I can see you by the lakes /

So are you gonna get down here? /

Are you gonna show your face? /

‘Cause I need to know we’re not alone /

I need to know it’s not a drone /

(It’s a drone again.”

These thoughts are only expanded upon in the chorus and may show the real reason why Neck Deep wants aliens to come to abduct them: 

Just take me with you when you go /

Take me with you when you go /

Take me with you cause I’m so done with this planet /

It sucks, yeah, you can have it /

I’d be down to see inside your UFO /

Take me with you when you go.

It’s a very pessimistic view on life, but I think everyone has those bad days where being abducted by aliens would be a better outcome. I think that is why this song excels. Although it is pure fun, this whole album never tries to be serious and, instead, just leans into the zany, over-the-top aspects that make pop-punk what it is.

Altogether, Neck Deep is just as advertised: a return to form. The band delivers constant entertainment through witty one-liners and phenomenal songwriting. The self-titled album is just dripping with character, and the band shows exactly why they are so praised in the pop-punk and alternative scene. It is pure action start to stop without a single dull moment or weak song and a plethora of earworms to add to your library. No matter what music you love, everyone should experience this modern pop-punk classic as soon as possible.

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