It’s no question that Neck Deep love a concept album, with last album ‘The Peace And the Panic’ centring around the conflicting calm and chaos of life, the Welsh group are at it again with their fourth album, ‘All Distortions Are Intentional’.
This time we follow the rollercoaster of modern life through the lens of a couple named Jett and Alice, as we watch them fall in love, fall apart and navigate the mess of modern life.
Soaring vocals and punchy drumlines encase opening track ‘Sonderland’ as we travel through the notions of trying to find the light at the end of a bleak tunnel “these strange times that we live in / will slowly eat you alive if you don’t fit in” and as it floats through the cute and anthemic ‘Fall’ into ‘Lowlife’, our main character Jett is preaching his rebellious identity.
Although musically these songs do carry the same elements of modern pop-punk across the majority of the album, such as roaring guitars, bouncing melodies and cheesy chord progressions, each song still holds its own. As we are introduced to two minor characters in this conceptual storyline, Jack and Emily represent the perfect Instagram lifestyle that plagues modern romance in ‘Telling Stories’. It’s fun upbeat nature and strong basslines showcase the band’s aptitude for creating engaging and dynamic melodies while persisting with harsh and angsty lyricism “have you ever felt lost in a window / desperate to be loved and just been thrown out?“.
One of the more daunting periods of this album is the contrast between the warm sunshine glow of ‘When You Know’ and ‘Quarry’. First, we have a perfectly loveable, fulfilling love song that makes light of how being so deeply in love can sometimes overtake you “Break free / oh no, not literally / ‘cause you’ve got work at eight“, full of light guitars and shimmering vocals. Quite as quickly as we’ve fallen head over heels, we have the rug ripped out from our feet as ‘Quarry’ crashes to the ground; It’s dark. In a sort of slow rap style, singer Ben Barlow’s vocals are low, solum and haunting as we dive into the darker side of the album.
Our characters are navigating tough times, as the tail end of the album battles existential crisis, how to get through tough times and the pains modern living can have on all elements of life, but especially relationships. ‘Little Dove’ is an honest, authentic and highly relatable narrative that is sure to hit home to many of us during this global crisis. “This modern living will slowly kill us / or bring us together / its all that anybody talks about“.
Constantly stepping away from the predictability of some classic pop-punk stylings, Neck Deep even dive into some country styled elements in songs ‘What Took You So Long’ and album finisher ‘Pushing Daisies’ utilising twanging guitar riffs and accented vocal stylings that bring a raw and raucous energy to the finale, as it explodes in a smash-your-guitar-on-stage rage of energy.