One of the biggest and most highly anticipated releases of this year has been Neck Deep‘s newest record, The Peace and The Panic through Hopeless Records. With taking the time to fully appreciate this addition to the band’s extensive discography, The Peace and The Panic follows up another fan favorite release, 2015’s Life’s Not Out To Get You. While some say the sophomore album has more lasting power, as Life’s Not Out To Get You gave the band the launch to their career, making Neck Deep genre leaders, this third album brings about a more mature side to these pop punk powerhouses.
Changes to the band lineup and personal lives makes The Peace and The Panic come across as a more mature and emotional representation of Neck Deep. Lead guitarist, Lloyd Roberts left the band just nine days after that album’s release on unfounded allegations of sexual misconduct. While new guitarist and replacement, Sam Bowden, is making his recorded debut on The Peace and the Panic. Lead singer Ben Barlow‘s father passed away in between recording and producing album cycles, which translates to the band using these changes in the past few years as writing material. And these changes aren’t just in the band lineups and lives, Neck Deep successfully change their sound and direction on a few tracks with The Peace and The Panic.
Songs such as “Motion Sickness” and “Happy Judgement Day” bring in the classic feel and what many fans loved about their previous album Life’s Not Out To Get You, incorporating searing guitars and great vocals from Ben Barlow. “In Bloom” develops the band’s change, as the track uses the metaphor of a stuck relationship paired with equally mellow guitars, settling in for a more pop/rock vibe to give their listeners. This sound comes back again with the track “Critical Mistake”, while the rest of the album tracks shift back and forth from emotional ballad pieces to the angsty pop punk. The powerful closing track is a personal favorite, entitled “Where Do We Go When We Go” settles in nicely as a final song, and notably fits with the new direction of where the band are taking their musical prowess.
While Neck Deep are still huge in the genre, The Peace and The Panic sets up a unique debate between fans and listeners. While it may not be as popular as their sophomore album, The Peace and The Panic is a huge success nonetheless in the pop punk genre, giving Neck Deep a platform to change their sound, experiment and ultimately, grow as musicians.