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If there was ever any doubt that the UK pop-punk scene was inferior to that of America’s, Wrexham five-piece Neck Deep are ready to grab it by its throat and inject the raw energy back into the scene.

With the release of their debut album, Wishful Thinking, the rockers come into their own, advancing on their instruments with vocalist Ben Barlow sounding more confident than previously heard on their earlier EP’s, Rain In July and A History of Bad Decisions.

Exploding into the opening track ‘Loosing Teeth’, guitar riffs and raw energy only serve to act as a reminder of how far Neck Deep have come after forming a mere two years before.

Racing through twelve tracks, the thirty minute pop-punk extravaganza draws comparisons from the stateside heavyweights The Story So Far and The Wonder Years with the angst-ridden lyrics, fast-paced guitars and raw intensity sounding like small tributes to these bands.

Songs such as ‘Staircase Wit’ and ‘Zoltar Speaks’, opening with two of the best riffs in the Neck Deep back catalogue, showcase the band oozing pop-punk confidently with infectious riffs, pounding drums and dramatic lyrics, hitting the very core of the album, climaxing between ferocious and catchy.

Lead single ‘Crushing Grief’ sees the band hit pop-punk gold with the punchy chorus and thrashing fretwork making it one of the standout songs from the album.

However, with the majority of the album similarly paced with anthemic choruses, it only maximises the impact that the concluding song ‘Candour’ has. With a female vocal contrasting with Barlow’s emotional delivery, the juxtaposing voices only heighten the raw sound of the track and serve as a fitting conclusion.

In simple terms, Wishful Thinking is a pop-punk album, but also a strong and confident debut from a band who have recently just broke onto the scene. It’s not ground-breaking or game-changing, but adds another hard-hitting release to a long line of pop-punk albums. For those who enjoy thrashing fretwork and pints-in-the-air choruses, this one is for you.

Niamh Moore

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