REVIEW: Joyce Manor – ‘Never Hungover Again’

Artist: Joyce Manor
Album: Never Hungover Again
Genre: Pop punk, alternative
Label: Epitaph Records

A lot can change in 20 minutes. Clients could fire you. You could find true love. You could lose it. People can die. 20 minutes of reading can teach you something you’ll always remember. Your first kiss, touch, and love can fully bloom within 20 minutes. Liam Lynch famously wrote “United States of Whatever” in less than 20 minutes. You can finish any Joyce Manor album in under 20 minutes.

And that’s how I want to spend my 20 minutes.

Joyce Manor sprung onto the DIY scene after heavy touring and an under-publicized self-titled album full of memorable pop ditties. They were set to explode with their second full-length, Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired, and its more polished production echoed a more nuanced, somewhat new-wave sound with its light tracings of synth (and the oddball cover of “Video Killed The Radio Star”). They rarely performed songs from the second album live, and some people thought Joyce had left the path to greatness. (I’d argue those people were wrong, because that album is great too, but I digress.)

If there was ever any doubt that Barry Johnson, Chase Knobbe, Kurt Walcher, and Matt Ebert are all-star pop songwriters, Never Hungover Again removes that doubt. It imprisons it. It locks that doubt in a room where the walls move in and crush everything. Every song on this album could be a single for virtually any other band. If they slowed the songs down and Barry had a less aggressive voice, this would be the Weezer album you wish followed Pinkerton. This is what you wish the next Weezer album sounds like. Put The Smiths, Weezer, Black Flag, and blink-182 in a blender, crank the tempo up a bit, lace it with the self-aware esoteric references of emo revival (dear God, I just said “emo revival” in a review please kill me soon I’ve become the problem) and you’ll have Never Hungover Again.

The overall sound is a damn-near the middle of Of All Things and Joyce Manor, but the quality of songwriting is at the same level or higher. “Falling In Love Again,” from the beat to the synth line, sounds like The Strokes but is far better than anything they’ve done in the past five years. “Catalina Fight Song” is one of their most memorable works, one of anyone’s most memorable, that perfectly display the personal lyricism. “There’s no way to keep in touch with certain people / You wonder how long something can last / Pretty sure most people don’t think about that / But who the fuck is laughing now? / Sunken city by the ocean / Car smells like hot Gatorade / Do you think because you chose to?” It’s like a friend came back from a two-year vacation full of stories you’re dying to hear, and they’ll only reference the tastes, sounds, smells, and heartbreak.

The whole album is like a lost friend returning. Honestly, there’s no better way to spend 20 minutes.

SCORE: 9/10
Review written by Dan Bogosian (Twitter)

Dan Bogosian
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