Album Review: Neck Deep- “The Peace and The Panic”

In what has arguably been one of the most anticipated albums of 2017, British Pop-Punk outfit and Babetalk favourite, Neck Deep sore to new heights in their latest release, “The Peace and The Panic“. The album is beautifully self-aware as it tackles the questions of mortality and our relation to grappling with that reality, while also not shying away from the directly political or the carefree celebration of life. Like the title of the album, “The Peace and The Panic” provides a duality in both sound in lyric, making for a listening experience with more depth than the traditional release while elevating the band’s sound as the upbeat tone at times works in contrast to what is being said. The album is undoubtably darker on a philosophical level, and Neck Deep has found confidence in their voice as they express what matters most.

As the record begins, we’re greeted with the perfect high energy track– possessing the sound we know and love from Neck Deep. ‘Motion Sickness’, whose music video released back in July, is a song celebrating the present while delicately balancing the darker thoughts and questions that haunt us all. “Where do we go when we die?”, “Am I on the right path?”, it’s questions like these that are tackled in this album that are first mentioned in this opening track. However, as Frontman Ben Barlow reassures, the questions are nothing to worry about because they keep you grounded. The “motion sickness” from these dizzying questions is something to get past on the road to success and a greater understanding of ourselves. It’s quite the uplifting track, and motivational no matter what your questions or fears are. ‘Motion Sickness‘ shows what this album sets out to do, the duality of every lyric, and how the sound we know is going to comfort us– which is why many of us turn to music in the first place; for comfort in out times of need.

Other favourites from the album include tracks like ‘Happy Judgement Day‘ and ‘In Bloom‘; two very different songs thematically on the album, that both still pack a punch lyrically. The former is honestly everything I love about punk when done right– it’s a social and political critique of the rather scary apocalyptical times we are currently living in. The lyrics speak of how “we almost had it” until “the world went up in flames“, which honestly is how the last year has felt. We live in such a terrifying time globally, and it’s always comforting to hear an artist address it musically as both a sobering realization as well as a call to arms. Barlow sings of things we’ve all recognized in the modern age– people are quick to speak before they think (mostly spewing hate), we’re living in an age of social media (which you can argue is both good and bad), and of course the minor, minor fact that we’re living on the edge of a nuclear war. Hell, even the video for the single references those shown during the Cold War in preparation for an Atomic Bomb dropping– it’s terrifying that this has become our reality, but the first step in defiance is recognizing that something is wrong, so the track ultimately makes you want to take action against this world wide terror.

In contrast, “In Bloom” is a cathartic track about the struggles of depression. The track has one of my favourite melodies of the album, as well as one of my favourite videos of the summer as a whole, which you can watch below. The song opens with a notice about it’s been hours since an atomic bomb attack, and while it ties the track to the others on the album, it also could serve as a metaphor for bad news or feelings of despair. This thought is taken further by lyrics like “sometimes at night I let it get to me” and “I’m sure it gets to all of us“, as Barlow sings of feeling numb as well. However, the track is one ultimately about self care and recognizing when the weight of the world is weighing you down in the process. In order to see yourself “bloom”, you have to get better first and that could take any amount of time– the trick is recognizing that it’s not an instant change. What I love about that track is that it speaks to that level of wanting to get better, but also wanting to shield yourself off from the world in the meantime– it’s a way I know I’ve felt for one, and it makes the track oh so relatable. As far as the video goes, as an artist myself who has tackled the duality of appearance vs. emotion, it appears to be playing off of the “aesthetic” sad culture you see online. Its bubblegum pop aesthetic with flowers and of course a vintage hamburger phone, are traditionally happier sights, but when paired with the lyrics they become much more dark. It’s something we see a lot of online as many of us try to turn our darkest hours into beauty and art, so whether or not it was the band’s intent to emulate this trend, it’s as relatable as the lyrics, which makes it a stand-out track. The cathartic nature of the track and artistic direction of the video definitely explains why it got the highest amount of views within the first 24 hours of its launch just earlier this week.

As a whole, “The Peace and The Panic” is a complex beast of an album that isn’t afraid to combat the darkness with the light. After a hard year for the band, they’re expressing all that they’ve felt and witnessed while keeping an optimistic sound. As Ben Barlow puts it, “It’s not all ‘Let’s have a party and grab a beer’ this time… trying to make something of your life is a big theme on this record, as is dealing with depression and anxiety… I’ve had to do a lot of soul-searching and maybe I’ve been hardened by life a little bit, but I feel ready to take on the world again, just in a different way.” and this theme on the record certainly shines through. Neck Deep certainly have found their voice– the album is unapologetic as it speaks its mind in our common fears and struggles; it’s complex and one of the top releases the scene has had thus far.

The Peace and The Panic” comes out this Friday, August 18th, and pre-order packages/links to preorder a download are still available via the band’s site. With an album as big as this, the sky is the limit for Neck Deep, and I for one am excited to catch them on their US tour in 2018. You can find links to connect with the band below, as well as their tour dates if you too want to experience this spectacular album live (especially those amazing guitar riffs).

January 18 -Santa Ana, CA -The Observatory

January 20 -Phoenix, AZ -Marquee Theatre

January 22 -Dallas, TX –The Bomb Factory

January 23 -San Antonio, TX –Alamo City Music Hall

January 24 -Houston, TX -Warehouse Live

January 26 -Atlanta, GA -Center Stage

January 27 -Tampa, FL –Orpheum Theatre

January 28 -Orlando, FL -Plaza Live

January 30 -Norfolk, VA -The NorVa

January 31 -Baltimore, MD -Rams Head Live

February 1 -Philadelphia, PA -Electric Factory

February 2 -New York, NY -Playstation Theater

February 3 -Worcester, MA –Palladium

February 5 -Rochester, NY –Anthology

February 6 -Montreal, QC –Club Soda

February 7 -Ottawa, ON -Bronson Centre

February 8 -Toronto, ON -Phoenix Concert Theatre

February 9 -Detroit, MI –The Majestic

February 10 -Cleveland, OH -Agora Theatre

February 12 -Chicago, IL -Concord

February 13 -Minneapolis, MN -First Avenue

February 14 -Kansas City, MO -The Truman

February 16 -Denver, CO –The Ogden Theatre

February 17 -Salt Lake City, UT -The Complex

February 20 -Calgary, AB -MacEwan Ballroom

February 21 -Edmonton, AB -Union Hall

February 23 -Vancouver, BC -The Vogue Theatre

February24 -Seattle, WA -The Showbox

February 25 -Portland, OR -Roseland Ballroom

February 27 -San Francisco, CA -The Regency Ballroom

February 28 -Los Angeles, CA -The Henry Fonda Theatre

Last modified: August 17, 2017