Pop punk powerhouse Neck Deep is back with a vengeance. The band’s fourth full-length album, All Distortions Are Intentional is set for release on Friday July 24, 2020 via Hopeless Records. ADAI tells the story of Jett, a disconnected loner who lives in a place called Sonderland and falls in love with a girl named Alice. The songs tell a story about these two characters, their relationship and personal struggles. All Distortions Are Intentional is a journey of self-discovery, existential confusion and the search for what it really means to be alive.
The album opens with “Sonderland,” and although it’s written about Jett’s fictitious home, it almost seems like it could be an anthem for how this year on Earth has gone so far. Pieces of Neck Deep’s previous three albums can be heard in this song and they all blend together to create something new and exciting for fans, both old and new.
“Fall” made its debut as the third pre-released single from ADAI, and even though it’s only the second track on the album, it’s clear the song is meant to stand out. The catchy chorus is made to be sung by a crowd, and I think everybody is counting down the days until that can happen again.
“Lowlife,” the first single released way back in February, screams quintessential Neck Deep. The catchy bass lines and guitar riffs that change drastically between the verses and chorus, the distant talking and laughing before the song starts and as it fades out – everything about it is so familiar and welcome. “Telling Stories” almost seems reminiscent of “Can’t Kick Up the Roots” from Life’s Not Out To Get You (2015) in the sense that it’s a song that’s meant to be sung at the top of your lungs with your best friends. The verses are so fun, and the flow of the lyrics in the chorus make it unlike any other song that Neck Deep has released so far.
“When You Know” features a music video that included fans from around the world. The video was created before anyone had heard the song, and yet somehow it fits perfectly. The song itself gives off such a warm, happy sound that makes you want to curl up close with the person you love the most. The track is followed up by a shorter, almost interlude-esque song titled “Quarry,” a completely different style than we’ve heard so far on the effort. Vocalist Ben Barlow manages to convey so much anxiety and worry in his voice, making this track seem like we’re teetering on the verge of some major existential crisis.
“Sick Joke” sounds like we’ve been pulled out of the existential fear that “Quarry” conveys, but the lyrics say otherwise. Something about it almost sounds like a more upbeat “When You Know,” but it trades in the romance for the panic of not knowing what your purpose is. “What Took You So Long?” is a song for the soulmates. The lyrics in this track are my favorite of any in Neck Deep’s discography, and it shows such a different side of this album. It leaves behind the fear of living in dread of not knowing your purpose and instead leaves the listener feeling vulnerable, soft and so happy to be alive with your favorite person, no matter how long it took you to find each other.
“Empty House” carries the vulnerability from the previous track forward, adding just a dash of the fear of existing this album has done such a fantastic job at conveying so far. The soft acoustic guitar at the beginning eventually gives way to electric guitar riffs, and something about them lends an almost-melancholy and bittersweet sound to the second half of the track. I didn’t think it was possible to get a sweeter song from this album than “What Took You So Long?,” but I think I might have been wrong. “Little Dove” offers a sweet voice singing reassuring lyrics all laid over a gentle guitar. It’s the embodiment of a warm, fuzzy feeling and although it was extremely unexpected, it’s not at all unwelcome.
“I Revolve (Around You)” stays with the same lovestruck trend of the past three tracks. The lyrics convey such an infatuation towards somebody, it’s hard to not smile along as Barlow belts out how inescapable the gravity of this person is. The lyrics paint such a gorgeous picture and are sure to stick with the listeners who appreciate a good love song.
ADAI concludes with “Pushing Daisies” and has got to be one of the most powerful closers in Neck Deep’s discography. The track does such a great job at taking all of the existential fear, all of the happiness, all of the confusion from the album and wrapping it up in 3 minutes and 44 seconds. It closes the book on the story of Jett and Alice’s relationship, and you can almost see the credits rolling. Barlow’s voice floats on top of the instrumentals, from the gentle almost-rock ballad in the beginning all the way through to the end, finishing in the typical Neck Deep style that nearly seems to echo a rallying cry.
If it wasn’t already, All Distortions Are Intentional cements Neck Deep’s place in the music scene. Barlow claims the album is “totally, unapologetically Neck Deep,” and it’s not hard to tell that the band put their hearts and souls into their fourth record. Longtime fans and newcomers alike are sure to welcome this album with open arms and their voices ready to scream the lyrics. I can’t wait to see the day when these songs can be performed live at a show, but until then, singing them at the top of your lungs with a few of your favorite people isn’t a bad substitution.