Neck Deep is a Welsh pop-punk band who’s currently signed to Hopeless Records. Why is their record label important for us to mention? Hopeless has signed countless talented pop-punk and punk bands, and Neck Deep is no different. Comprised of five members, one vocalist (Ben Barlow), two guitarists (Lloyd Roberts and Matt West), one bassist (Fil Thorpe-Evans) and one drummer (Dani Washington), Neck Deep has produced two studio albums, one compilation album, and three EPs. Life’s Not Out To Get You, or LNOTGY, as fans and the band have referred to it on twitter, is their latest.
The album kicks off with Citizens of Earth, speaking, as if hearing the band begin a song live. The powerful guitar track starts, with driving underlying percussion. The song is strong and confident, and definitely rebellious. Many of the lyrics are meaningful, although a word of warning: there are quite a few swear words on this album. Near the ending, the overlapping voiceovers are cool. The next song, Threat Level Midnight, changes key, with more upbeat-sounding guitar and bursting drums. The lyrics are powerful and are sure to hit home with a chorus of, “I’m getting sick of being broke/But what’s worse is I’m all on my own/Can’t seem to let this go/I wish I could stop staring at the phone so I can get some sleep/Another day, another week in hell”. The third song, Can’t Kick Up The Roots, begins with lower, catchy, percussive bass notes harmonized with a higher-pitched guitar melody. It’s reminiscent of a place that may be decaying and a shipwreck, but is loved. The words, “Yeah, this place is such a shipwreck, but this shipwreck, it is mine”, exhibit this love for the run-down town. During parts of verses, the guitar cuts out, leaving only percussion, and then slides back in. Later, the overlap of the words “I’m not stuck, I’m staying” remind the listener once again of that love for the “shipwreck”. Kali Ma seems to be a twisted love song, with Barlow showing off his vocal chops. A more lighthearted song, Gold Steps, spins hope through the words, “Sometimes, things will bend you/But trust me, you’ll be fine/Cause I’ve been moving mountains/That I once had to climb/And life’s not out to get you/Despite the things you’ve been through”. When the vocals overlap and harmonize while the instruments cut out, it’s chilling, but in a good way. Lime St is bitter, almost begging at some parts, with strong bass notes and driving percussion. Serpents begins softly, but then bursts into more powerful melodies, as a bitter song about heartbreak. This Beach Is For Lovers (Not Lonely Losers) is the next track, and with a name like that, it’s bound to be good. It begins softly and gets louder, much like Serpents, but there’s a shocking difference between the two that’s almost undetectable in the beginning. It’s almost unifying at some parts. The lyrics, “There’s more to life than chasing ghosts, but hindsight’s 20/20” are honest and will resonate with a lot of listeners. December, the acoustic track, is sad and bitter, yet well-wishing. The chorus of “I hope you get your ballroom floor/Your perfect house with rose red doors/I’m the last thing you’d remember/It’s been a long lonely December” shows off the love that is put into the song, although it is not bitter as you’d expect. The violins in the background really pull the whole song together, along with the “I miss you, but I wish you well” in the back that captures the essence of the song in those few words. The last three songs are just as powerful and confident as the first eight, driving and almost chaotic, but in a good way. The final song ends with a low voice that resonates long after the album is over.