Neck Deep
All Distortions Are Intentional


2.0
poor

Review

by Jesper L. CONTRIBUTOR (46 Reviews)
July 24th, 2020 | 98 replies


Release Date: 07/24/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: /vər.ˈsxrɪ.kə.lək/

I’ll always be the first Dutch-speaking individual to condemn the language to the fiery depths of hell. Yet, even if it lacks any trace of aesthetic appeal, it is an absolute god-tier language when it comes to swearing. No ‘sh*t’ or ‘f*ck’ can weigh up against the sheer gratification of firing a ‘godverdomme’ at someone, stressing the hell out of that repulsive ‘g’ sound. What this has to do with the new Neck Deep record? Well, the most appropriate word to describe All Distortions Are Intentional might just be ‘gedrocht’. Approximately pronounced like a grizzly bear attempting to devour a chainsaw, this word roughly translates to ‘freak’, but with a bit more grit.

Because, honestly, that’s what this album is: a batch of poorly conceived ideas doing its best to appeal to whatever’s within its reach. Whereas the band’s previous output mostly relied on energetic performances and competent songwriting, none of this appears present on All Distortions Are Intentional. Instead, the band expands on their 2017 hit ‘In Bloom’ by sticking to this fuzzier, calmer sound all throughout the record. However, while many artists use such distortion as a stylistic device to enhance (an aspect of) the songwriting, Neck Deep opts for employing it to hide a lack of memorable qualities. The chorus of ‘Sick Joke’, for example, is drowned in reverb, hardly effectively disguising the fact that there is no vocal melody, no riff, no above-average drumming to keep the listener’s attention. Yet, rather ironically, when vocalist Ben Barlow does manage to belt out a quality chorus on ‘Telling Stories’, its impact is diminished as there is no distinguishable instrumentation present to complement his vocals.

This does not mean that Barlow’s vocals can be deemed a highlight of All Distortions Are Intentional; quite the opposite. On previous records, especially the excellent Life’s Not Out to Get You, he sounded like the perfect fit for a pop punk band: energetic and gritty, with a healthy flair of carelessness typical for the genre. Here, however, his voice has deteriorated into annoyingly nasal territory. To make matters worse, it often feels like Barlow can't be bothered putting in any effort whatsoever, resulting in a performance a far cry from the oddly charming way his vocals occasionally faltered on previous records. The sickeningly sweet ‘Little Dove’ showcases this through an absolute overdose of autotune, giving the song a rather unpleasantly robotic feel. Similarly, the aforementioned ‘Sick Joke’ contains a pre-chorus where it is unclear whether the vocalist is tripping over his own words, attempting to rap or just not even striving to achieve a controlled flow. My money’s on the latter.

To make matters worse, the lyrical content Neck Deep bring to the table here is rather atrocious. Allegedly a concept album, the love story set in Sonderland is incredibly hard to follow or care about at all, with lead single ‘Lowlife’ containing incredible lines such as ‘I like some purple with my tangerine’ and ‘Oh well, oh well / You’re a normie’. Similarly, the horrendous interlude ‘Quarry’ strives for depth by briefly mentioning the loss of a friend, but throws it all away as Barlow croons ‘That’s S T R E S S next to S’... whatever the hell that may mean. Neck Deep have never been known for poignant lyricism, but with some of the absolute nonsense present on All Distortions Are Intentional, the pop punk tropes of hating one’s hometown and vague political commentary almost seem like a stroke of genius.

Thankfully, it’s not all bad. Opener ‘Sonderland’ is a surprisingly energetic track, boasting a nice hook that’s most reminiscent of the band’s previous work. ‘When You Know’ and ‘Pushing Daisies’ are the only songs that fully and successfully realise All Distortions Are Intentional’s worship of fuzzy, 90s-inspired alternative rock. Especially the former is a delightfully cheesy singalong cut, even if it ends up feeling like a carbon copy of ‘In Bloom’. Elsewhere, almost the entire back half of the record blends together. While this can be seen as indicating a lack of aspects to actively dislike, it also showcases an inability of the songs to stand out or possess memorable qualities altogether.

It’s a shame: Neck Deep clearly aim for an audience ready to soak up reverb-drenched pop, yet sadly forgot to write any quality songs in the process. From the dreamy production to the frequent use of acoustic guitars, it is almost impressive how unimpressive this album is. With the exception of ‘Fall’s horrendously repetitive chorus, there is little to actively dislike on casual listens, yet a closer look at All Distortions Are Intentional reveals its incredibly poorly constructed nature. There is very little to bite one’s teeth into, and simply put, there is very little to enjoy. What a gedrocht… it really is quite verschrikkelijk (/vər.ˈsxrɪ.kə.lək/).



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user ratings (77)
2.6
average


Comments:Add a Comment 
JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
July 24th 2020


1896 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

rip this sucks, rec section is albums that do this style much betterer

Digging: Palm Reader - Sleepless

Faraudo
July 24th 2020


3857 Comments


I wanted this to be good, oh well.

parksungjoon
July 24th 2020


23076 Comments


rip

pos'd



Digging: Slauter Xstroyes - Free the Beast

TundraL5Z
July 24th 2020


5336 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

just from the singles it's clear this just sucks

Digging: Alustrium - Insurmountable

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
July 24th 2020


1896 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

same faraudo, i also have no idea what they'll do after this

ty park!

costofnothing
July 24th 2020


153 Comments


Good review, POS

Interesting how a lot of pop punk bands are trying to get into shoegaze/dream pop

TundraL5Z
July 24th 2020


5336 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

this album is a real fall from grace, Life's not out... was a such a great album, wtf happened

Pikazilla
July 24th 2020


13316 Comments


Band has always been trash, not sure what you on about

It's pop punk of the 10s for crying out loud, one of the worst things to happen in music that decade

hung0ver
July 24th 2020


17 Comments


Neck Deep have been on a downward trend since LNOTGY, shame they delved into this pop punk subgenre and did such a bad job at it, because there's definitely something there to be explored but imo nobody's hit the nail on the head yet.

SteakByrnes
July 24th 2020


21573 Comments


Lmfao have you seen the bio for them on here? Why is this the second line of their bio

"Their ex-guitarist, Lloyd Roberts, was removed from the band due to allegationsofsexualmisconduct with a minor."

That fucking killed me

Digging: Coletta - Idealism

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
July 24th 2020


1896 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

that line's there to ensure everyone knows with absolute certainty this is a pop punk band lmao

Pikazilla
July 24th 2020


13316 Comments


Lmao so very true

JayEnder
July 24th 2020


8724 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Name a more iconic duo than pop punkers and sexual misconduct

Pikazilla
July 24th 2020


13316 Comments


True dat

JayEnder
July 24th 2020


8724 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I can't with all honesty say that I hated this record. Sonderland, Sick Joke, and What Took You So Long are pretty cool tracks. But that pitch correction on Ben's voice... Jesus fucking christ.

JoyfulPlatypus
July 24th 2020


253 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Sonderland set me up with such high hopes...but yeah I agree that most of this album falls completely flat. Good review btw.

Digging: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - K.G.

JayEnder
July 24th 2020


8724 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Quarry is so bad lmao

Atari
Staff Reviewer
July 24th 2020


26126 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Life’s Not Out To Get You was awesome. Not sure what happened to the band’s guitar driven sound but yeah this seems pretty lame. It has some good lyrical hooks in the opening track but I’m not feeling the instrumentation at all

Digging: Tired Lion - Breakfast for Pathetics

oisincoleman64
July 24th 2020


2478 Comments


I actually really dig this so far, it's just fun and catchy

oisincoleman64
July 24th 2020


2478 Comments


Quarry sounds like Neck Deep's attempt at remaking Bloodhail lmao



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