REVIEW: Man Overboard – Man Overboard

Artist: Man Overboard
Album: Man Overboard
Label: Rise
Genre: Pop Punk

For New Jersey’s Man Overboard, last year’s Real Talk gained plenty of attention and praise. After all it proved to a consicse collection of straight-up pop-punk songs. One year on, and the now five-piece (guitarist Wayne Wildrick re-joined the band earlier this year,) have the difficult task of producing a worthy follow-up.

Admittedly on first listen,Man Overboard doesn’t quite live up to expectations yet if you give it time, then it’s clear that they have once again delivered a strong record.

From the start it’s clear that the band aren’t changing a winning formula as “Rare” opens the album at a frantic pace with vocalist Nik Bruzzese and Zac Eiesenstein complimenting each other well, before launching into a upbeat and bold chorus that sets the tone for the rest of album.

Lyrically the band have stuck with (stereotypical) theme of being in and/or out of love with the opposite sex. On “Voted Most Likely” sees the yearning for a girl; “I’ll most likely spend tonight alone,” whilst “Dead End Dreams” contains the lyrics “how can I save the world? I’m too busy trying to see a girl.” Sure it’s not extraordinary, but when combined with the band’s energetic and approachable pop-punk style, you can’t help but feel satisfied.

Whilst there is little change musically, at times the bands sound is thicker and is comparable to New Found Glory. For example “Somethings Weird” is a fiery blast of pop-punk with driving guitars and suitable harmonies.

Without a doubt, from start to finish Man Overboard keep up the momentum as it’s clear that the NJ-based group certainly know how to write good, fast 3 minute pop-punk songs. However you can’t help at times feel that the record lacks substance. Tracks like “Punishment” and “Headstone” come and go without little to no effect. Though they are structured and have the same energy and passion the band consistently put in, you just get the impression that they act as filler and purely there to keep up the tempo.

Thankfully tracks like “Spunn” and “Picture Perfect” get the album somewhat back on track. The latter is more steadier compared to other tracks, which allows Bruzzese’s vocals to become more sincere and to an extent, more important as he sings “a picture perfect world couldn’t keep her happy.” Whilst “Spunn” is a well-rounded, and structured pop-punk song, with crisp drums from Mike Hrycenko, impressive duel-vocal work and a appreciative chorus that takes the bands formula the next level, ultimately becoming one of the albums highlights.

Although for the most part of the record sing about girls and relationships, “Atlas” closes the record and is (slightly) darker lyrically and musically more fierce. It’s short, straight to the point approach mixed with sombre lyrics; “maybe I’ll learn how to talk to people. Maybe I’ll learn how to laugh. Maybe I’ll end up just like my dad. But I just don’t feel like a grown up yet.” It next blasts through to a bold, passionate finale that closes record on a high note.

Whilst Man Overboard isn’t quite Real Talk part two, they have still managed to produce a favourable record that has longevity; if it’s given a chance. Though musically and lyrically they haven’t made any huge strides forward, their style and sound is easily approachable and easy to relate to, which helps the record move along from start to finish. Their formula is, at times, simple but for fans of the genre, they will love this as there is no need to complicate matters. As for Man Overboard and their fans, Pop-Punk is just about being together and simply having fun.

For a pop-punk record, Man Overboard serves its purpose brilliantly well; fast-paced throughout with bold and bright choruses that quickly win you over and harmonies to match, and perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t attempt to alienate the listener, thus making a thorough album of thriving, feel-good collection pop-punk songs. For though who are wanting variation, you won’t find it here.

Score: 8/10
Review written by: Sean Reid (Follow him on Twitter)

James Shotwell
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