Neck Deep - The Peace And The Panic
Review by Dom Vigil
Neck Deep are ready to take on the world once more on their new album, The Peace And The Panic, and this time, they’re back stronger, smarter and more level headed than ever. Thematically, The Peace And The Panic finds Neck Deep exploring and dealing with the struggles of daily life in a realistic and relatable way. Three studio albums in, the band have come to grips with the highs and lows in life emotionally, while sonically, they’ve crafted their most diverse release yet. The Peace And The Panic is a step away from anything that Neck Deep has released yet, and in the best way possible.
Setting the tone for The Peace And The Panic is the positive, uplifting first track, “Motion Sickness.” Throughout this anthem and call to arms, vocalist Ben Barlow begs himself and the listener, “Don’t stop now.” This first song serves as a bright, honest new chapter for Neck Deep - vulnerable, yet self assured, poppy yet still packing a punch that makes you want to get up and move. The perfect follow-up to “Motion Sickness” is “Happy Judgement Day.” Where the first track is more on the positive end of the spectrum, the second song explores anxiety, paranoia and attempting to find understanding in others. Musically, this song stays rather upbeat but you will easily be able to feel the change in mood in Barlow’s vocals.
The first big sonic shift on the album can be found on the third track, “The Grand Delusion,” which takes on a smoother, more melodic tone. Barlow’s vocals are less staccato on this track, allowing him to shine on longer notes and a slower chorus. Following the themes explored on “Happy Judgement Day,” this song discusses mental health and questioning one’s identity in the main hook, “I think I would rather be anyone else but me.”
From “The Grand Delusion,” the album only continues to grow and evolve. Throughout these songs, Neck Deep delve into new musical terrain to create something that isn’t limited to a specific genre or sound. The album’s fifth song, “In Bloom” feels like the summit, a softer, emotional track that finds Barlow bearing his soul. This song would sound like an entirely different band alongside Neck Deep's 2014 release, Wishful Thinking, but this doesn’t feel like a band who have lost their spark or “sold out” as some may call it. Instead, it feels like a group of musicians following their hearts. And thematically, “In Bloom” perfectly blends the “peace” and “panic” of the album, acknowledging one’s insecurities and shortcomings while attempting to get better. Then comes the explosive “Don’t Wait,” which features guest vocals from Architects’ Sam Carter and will certainly please the band’s older fans. This politically charged song is the sonic opposite of “In Bloom” and further enhances the contrasting themes of the album while keeping the energy high. Carter’s vocals are a perfect addition and unlikely combination.
From “Don’t Wait,” the album then begins to wind down. The contrast between “Don’t Wait” and the following “Critical Mistake” is a little drastic, but by the time the first chorus hits, it’ll be easy to overlook. The heartbreaking “Wish You Were Here” follows with something that anyone who has lost someone can relate to. Although this acoustic song is incredibly simplistic, it’s a hard hitter emotionally.
Keeping things diverse is “19 Seventy Sumthin’,” which feels like a total pop track. Right before the end of the album, this song manages to showcase Neck Deep’s dynamic range once more. The growth both emotionally and sonically throughout this album is incredible, and it can be heard the most throughout this song and final track, “Where Do We Go When We Go.”
The Peace And The Panic works because it’s unconventional. Driven first and foremost by the band’s experiences throughout the past couple of years, these songs are raw, vulnerable and honest, and with that in mind, the songwriting follows suit. The Peace And The Panic isn’t limited by genre or the unspoken rules of what makes a “good” pop-punk album. Instead, this album finds Neck Deep stepping out of their comfort zone and into uncharted territory, and the result is one of their best releases to date.
LISTEN TO: "In Bloom," "Don't Wait (ft. Sam Carter)" or "19 Seventy Sumthin'"
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PRE-ORDER THE PEACE AND THE PANIC: neckdeep.lnk.to/TPATP