The Peace and The Panic - Neck Deep
Neck Deep were catapulted to worldwide fame with sophomore album, Life’s Not Out To Get You (2015), a record full of the wonder of being in your late teens/early twenties. Follow up, The Peace and The Panic has a more world weary perspective, yet the record's title is a metaphor for life's good and bad moments.
The band walk into this new era as maturer musicians, and on the whole the record reflects this. Not an uninspired collection of generic pop punk we see from some of Neck Deep’s peers, The Peace And The Panic has an well rounded mix of different styles: from pop rock single, "In Bloom" that you’ll not be able to get out of your head, to the other end of the spectrum, with "Don’t Wait" featuring Architects’ Sam Carter - we get an auditory mix from start to finish.
The record isn’t a slam dunk for the band however, there are songs that seem to fall short of what the band were seemingly attempting. Either with their over Americanisation, or just how bland some tracks come across. "Critical Mistake" is a weak attempt at a bland boy band number, that sounds caught between the rockier sentiments of The Wanted and One Direction. And opener "Motion Sickness" is a poor choice to open with, feeling quite forgettable and generic.
"Happy Judgement Day" video / Directed by Dan Fusselman
"Happy Judgement Day" alludes to how we could be on the brink of nuclear calamity with how we are progressing - “building walls, dropping bombs”. "Don’t Wait" then refers to governments and the media brainwashing people into holding deceptions as truth, with Sam Carter’s lyrics echoes the widely used leftwing cry of “No Justice, No Peace”. However the band also keep things more relatable with the standard pop punk lyrics regarding broken and flawed relationships in both "In Bloom" and "Critical Mistake". Penultimate track "19 Seventy Sumthin’" begins to culminate the record with a touching tribute to Ben’s father Terry Barlow, documenting his life and dealing with the grief following his passing.
Overall it’s not a poor record, however it pales in comparison to Life’s Not Out To Get You in some aspects. The band seemingly have tried to go too far out of their comfort zone and it hasn’t come across as strong as the band’s prior experimentation. However the production of the record, and the way the band have matured both lyrically and instrumentally shows only positive things for the band’s still growing career. The Peace and The Panic has a plentiful helping of great tracks, however the inclusion of some weaker songs suggests Neck Deep could have held off this release. While some fans may constantly crave new material, it doesn’t feel like two years since their last, due to its esteemed acceptance from both critics and audiences worldwide.