Release Date: 24/07/2020
Record Label: Hopeless Records
For Fans Of: State Champs, WSTR, Seaway
For a band that once ended a song with “Fuck Neck Deep mate, they’re shit”, All Distortions Are Intentional must leave the pop-punk heavyweights pinching themselves. The now five-piece (Welcome, Seb Barlow) are back with not only their fourth album, but also their boldest and most creative yet. Neck Deep deliver an immersive experience in the form of a concept album that follows the story of protagonist Jet, who in the space of twelve belting tracks goes through disconnection, disillusion, and the depths of love. Set in the fictional world of Sonderland, it’s time we take a trip there.
“Modern music is so much based around ‘the single’ and writing a record isn’t held in nearly the same regard as it used to be,” shares frontman Ben Barlow. “All Distortions Are Intentional presents a whole story, where there is meaning from every angle of it.” That meaning comes in the form of hook-heavy, emotionally layered, and relatable songs such as the wonderful ‘When You Know’, ‘What Took You So Long?’ and ‘Pushing Daisies’. ‘Sick Joke’ is another brilliant example of this approach, focusing on the darker depths that the mind can reach but also the resilience in the way we are able to gain perspective in those hard times. Neck Deep have never been afraid to approach issues that impact us all within their music, but they do it their own signature way; a tongue-in-cheek punk attitude and simultaneous thoughtful authenticity.
There are moments on All Distortions Are Intentional where the rawness of emotion that resides at the heart of this record spills out. Fans of the band will remember tracks such ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘December’ from previous albums of this kind of fashion, and this record doesn’t disappoint in that sense. ‘Little Dove’ sounds as charming as can be but it’s superficial, positive exterior masks a darker take on modern living, while ‘Empty House’ reflects on trying to put the past behind you and making up for what has happened in a typical bittersweet Neck Deep fashion.
Despite the brave decision to create a concept album, there’s an accessibility to every track on All Distortions Are Intentional that enables them to work alone as well as they do together. That’s largely helped by the fact that each track either resonates or just outright bangs; sometimes both. ‘I Revolve (Around You)’ is the most infectious of pop-punk love songs that slaps from the outset, ‘Telling Stories’ has frantic tempo, heart, and an infectious vibe to it that’ll make your Doctor recommend you to liberally apply cream after every listen. ‘Lowlife’, one of the lead singles from the record, is another fantastic example of the way Neck Deep can deal a dose of reality in the catchiest and melodic of manners.
Throughout All Distortions Are Intentional there’s a clear comfort within their own skin and identity as a band, something that has occurred as a result of an unrivalled work ethic and a new-found self-belief within their standing as a young British rock band in today’s scene. Ben Barlow says “We have crafted a sound that is ours, it is totally, unapologetically Neck Deep.” Well, we’d like to take a moment to say that we are totally, unapologetically huge fans of this record.
Recommended Track: ‘When You Know’