"These songs didn’t feel too out of place among the heavier songs of their older albums however showing Neck Deep's gentle touch when creating music, did not exclude those highly familiar with their original style."
This summer I was fortunate enough to get entry into a limited entry event at Urban Outfitters to see Neck Deep perform a live acoustic event after my friends had been discussing their new album and their previous albums. It had been so close to the release of the new album, therefore we were very unsure of the development of their style. Neck deep in previous albums appeared to be a lot heavier and aggressive with (Wishful Thinking and Life’s Not Out to Get You). With their newest single (In Bloom) featuring on radio one just a week after this event and not just on the Daniel P Carter's show, perhaps the emphasis with this new single is on the pop. This is an unusual move for a pop punk band; would it be in their favour? Soon the crowd fell silent as people saw that the band members were entering the stage. We saw the guitarists Matt West and Fil Thorpe-Evans enter first shortly followed by their lead singer Ben Barlow.
Neck Deep's set opened with (Motion Sickness) and despite being such a new song, the audience were shockingly fluent while singing the lyrics. The crowd seemed to have a need to cling to each word, which was unusual for a live acoustic event. Ben would later say that this is due to the fact that people can hear each other sing. Though the album, (The Peace and The Panic), was still fresh it was quick to see why it had gained so much attraction, with the album's concept being based around the anxiety of a world that is going to end. However the message of the album delivered many other anxieties that young people experience. Asking questions like, what is the purpose of our existence and why do we have so little control over what happens to us? A large contrast to Neck Deeps previous album (Life’s Not Out to Get You), however with the world being very unpredictable young people seem to hold close to the idea that they aren’t the only ones struggling with it.
Continuing the set, Neck Deep followed with (In Bloom), their most recent single and with it having daily playtime on BBC Radio one we saw that it is possibly the biggest hit of their new album, with the crowd singing the song all the way through. This song seems to be the turning point of not only the new album but Neck Deep's career as a whole. It was clearly a hit in the room and had me thinking about how bands really can pull genres into the mainstream once again. Much like Blink-182 and Sum 41, Neck Deep have managed to pull pop punk out of the wood work for a new and younger audience to enjoy and have solidified their position as core members of the modern pop punk scene. After finishing this song Ben described it as, trying something different but holding the same values of their previous music. If this was trying something new and different I am already excited for their next album.
For the next song (Gold Steps), Neck Deep go back to their previous album, of the same name as the track. This song brought some familiarity to the set with a song everyone knew. During this song I began to realise that Neck Deep managed to make their new music not too jarring within the set. Everyone had welcomed it with open arms and seemed to enjoy these still very new songs, even if you were not totally familiar with the album yet. This task was preformed fluidly and didn’t scare off newcomers. There isn’t enough praise placed on bands for allowing new material into their set so easily. The band finished their set with (Where Do We Go When We Go). This was the first song to be released from the new album, it held such significance to me as it really feels like it points out that Neck Deep can infuse their songs with more pop qualities making them much more lifting and lighter. These songs didn’t feel too out of place among the heavier songs of their older albums however showing Neck Deep's gentle touch when creating music, did not exclude those highly familiar with their original style.
After the set ended and a brief chant of Penblwydd Hapus (Happy Birthday in Welsh) as it was Fils Birthday you could feel the sense of community in the room. People were handing round records so they could get them signed and were chatting with different people about how they enjoyed the new album. Many people had enjoyed the change in style but there was also a surprising number of new people coming to the show who hadn’t seen them before. After the gig I also noticed many people who hadn’t previously listened to pop punk telling me about how good the singles on this album were. Neck Deep may have found a new group of people to enthuse with a love of pop punk music. All I will say is, the more the merrier.
Neck Deeps new album is out now. Go listen to it and the old stuff.