Growing older often pushes out the things you loved when you were younger, as life gives you less time to devote to these things than you’d like. This site, gathering dust on the shelf of the internet, is a good example of that.
But every now and then something happens to blast away the cobwebs, transporting you back to the simpler days and reminding you that youth is a feeling, not a number.
That most recent reminder is Neck Deep’s new album, Life’s Not Out To Get You, and what a reminder it is.
I like to brag to anyone who’ll listen that Neck Deep are from my home town of Wrexham, and that I picked up on them way back when their debut EP Rain In July was about to be released.
It’s about slightly more than local colour and celebrity though.
I, like many teenagers, tried to put together various bands, and each attempt was ill-fated. Failure, I reasoned, was always circumstantial. A band playing pop punk, from a sleepy town in Wales could never make a name for itself, I assured myself.
But Neck Deep are proof that talent transcends these kinds of barriers.
It’s really all about pride.
You’ll know the story of the band’s meteoric rise by now: summers on the Warped tour, supporting Blink 182, playing at Wembley – they’ve done it all. And all of this has led to Life’s Not Out To Get you, Neck Deep’s second album.
The album feels like the true realisation of everything they’ve ever wanted to do via previous releases, but never quite achieved.
LNOTGY is nothing short of a pop punk masterwork, entering the canon of the genre alongside the likes of Enema of the State, Take This to Your Grave and New Found Glory’s self-titled. It’s that important.
There isn’t a second of the album’s duration that doesn’t represent a step-change for the band.
The hooks are the catchiest the boys have ever written.
Fil Thorpe Evans gets to flex his bass muscles on tracks like Serpents and Rock Bottom, while Lloyd and West’s guitars are tighter and more interesting than they’ve ever been.
Ben’s lyrics and vocals, from sweet harmonies to frenetic yells, have come of age and Dani Abasi’s work behind the kit elevates the whole thing from being a 9/10 album to a 10/10.
And while ND could have completely played it safe by sticking to a perfectly crafted and defined pop punk sound, they’ve actually gone beyond it. Opener Citizens of Earth recalls the likes of Gallows or Sum 41’s harder-sounded sophomore album, Serpents shows shades of Rise Against and elsewhere I’ve caught glimpses of Finch and Senses Fail.
Driving around in the sunshine with the windows down and turning up LNOTGY recalls summers of a decade or so past, when it was New Found Glory’s Sticks and Stones or The Starting Line’s Say It Like You Mean It providing the soundtrack.
As I approach 30 and realise that the I’m almost 10 years senior to the average Neck Deep fan, I’m proud to see pop punk isn’t dead – and that it’s actually in very safe hands.