Welcome to Sonderland with Neck Deep
8.4Overall Score

Neck Deep, Lowlife
Hopeless Records

Neck Deep are the cruellest of all pop-punk bands – to drop a banger on us like She’s A God (back last June) and then let us stew for nearly 9 months? It’s a crime! But their long-awaited return couldn’t be better heralded than by latest track Lowlife.

It’s everything you’d want from a Neck Deep track and more – Ben Barlow’s practically genre-defining pop-punk vocals, whining guitar lines over chunky, cheerful riffs, and lyrics that are almost laughably colloquial at times (“you’re a normie”?) but woven through the realism is a gorgeous slew of images – purple, tangerine, “drinking coffee on a trampoline”. Barlow accesses an arsenal of metaphor whilst staying accessible and relatable – a trademark of Neck Deep lyrics that they’ve definitely strengthened in Lowlife.

Our excitement ranges far beyond just loving the track though – Lowlife signals the beginning of a new Neck Deep era, one that pushes the boundaries further than they’ve ever gone before. We’re used to hearing about relationships, pop culture, personal topics galore – the Welsh outfit are adept at communicating life as we know it in the best way. But on their just-announced album, All Distortions Are Intentional, they invite us into a world they’ve created, a concept complete with characters and a fascinating narrative following the idea of sonder (“It’s that strange existential realisation that you are not the entire world, everyone around you feels and lives the same way that you do. You’re just an extra in their story.” In Barlow’s own words).

Conceptually, it’s like nothing Neck Deep have ever done before, but musically, it looks to be just as good as the precedent they’ve set. So we just can’t wait to get to Sonderland, meet leading characters Jett and Alice, and see what they’ve got in store for us.

All Distortions Are Intentional is out July 24th via Hopeless Records.