Joyce Manor – Cody
By Bobby Beebe
Pop-punk as a genre has never held much clout as a genre in indie rock. Hyper-sensitive lyrics and whiny vocals from bands like The Story So Far, The Wonder Years, and Neck Deep have saturated the public ear and given pop-punk a bad rap. There are, however, bands that stick out and perhaps transcend the genre, disregarding convention and refusing cliché to make loud, honest music. Joyce Manor is one of those bands.
On their latest album, Cody, Joyce Manor draws as much on pop-punk pioneers like the Descendants as they do from The Smiths. Consequently, Cody is an album with many layers, which may take a few listens to unpack and thoroughly enjoy. Certainly, less accessible than records from the band’s past, the songs on Cody feel like they might throw a wrench in the band’s typical wild and raucous live shows. Many of the songs here are slow burners, like the band’s first real acoustic ballad “Do You Really Want To Not Get Better.” Songs like “Stairs,” “Make Me Dumb,” and “Angel In The Snow” aren’t really the sing-a-longs fans expect, but they possess a sort of anxious energy that will hit home for any twenty-something without a clue.
Just because the album seems unconventional for the band and scene, that does not mean that there are not some feel good pop-punk tracks here. “Fake ID,” a song which references Kanye West, Phil Hartman and John Steinbeck, is jangly and fun. “Reversing Machine” possesses the kind of DIY-punk grit which made the band so popular in the early years. The standout track is “Last You Heard of Me” a song which starts out like a 90s radio rock song from Everclear or Weezer, but which builds and explodes into a breakdown in which Barry Johnson predicts his inevitable collapse. This is representative of the album, and perhaps the genre of pop-punk as a whole, which seems to be in existential crisis, clinging to youth while being more and more segmented from its aesthetics.
1. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
2. LVL UP – Return to Love
3. Glass Animals – How to be a Human Being
4. Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine
5. Bear Hands – You’ll Pay for This
6. Bellows – Fist and Palm
7. Kings of Leon – Walls
8. Cass McCombs – Mangy Love
9. Alex G – DSU
10. Crying – Beyond the Fleeting Gales