By Al Kaufman
Now that Blink 182 have gone all mature with their new release, Neighborhoods, it’s good to know that there are bands like Man Overboard (who take their name from the Blink 182 song) to hold high to pop-punk, smarmy teen trophy.
Man Overboard, a five-piece out of New Jersey, has finally come into its own in 2011. They welcomed back founding guitarist Wayne Wildrick (who left in 2010 for personal reasons), signed with Rise Records, and are touring this fall with New Found Glory on the Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour. They also nabbed New Found Glory’s guitarist Steve Klein to produce the CD.
The result is to be expected. This an album of more pop than punk, with lots of group screaming choruses and catchy hooks. There’s anger and attitude, and they say “fuck” a lot. In short, it’s the kind of stuff misplaced suburban boys will listen to endlessly. What the CD is missing is the all-important pre-pubescent humor. “Teleport” comes close, with lines like “It’s just a matter if inspiration and it was all just a combination of all the drugs I did tonight,” but there is not much creativity here.
Songs of bad break-ups take precedent. Mostly angry rants, but sometimes with interesting twists. On “Spunn” his girlfriend stands him up at a party, so he takes someone else to bed, but all she wants him to do is “lay silent and play dead.” On “Not the First?” the girl leaves him for “the freak kid picked last for the team.” All the songs are done with crushing but catchy guitars and drums while Zac Eisenstein and Nik Bruzzese take turns spitting out bile. There is a sort of familiarity to their anger that is strangely comforting. They are the angry emo boys that the girls want to take home and tame.
The CD starts to grow a bit monotonous near the end, but it is rescued by the closing number, “Atlas.” The only song not about a busted relationship, it is their version of Green Day’s “Longview,” although there are not any lines as deliciously perverse as “When masturbation’s lost its fun you’re fucking breaking.” About a kid who is afraid of growing up and becoming like his dad, he stares out the window, “takes notes on being normal,” and wonders why life is so pointless. Disgruntled high- schoolers everywhere will relate. It is also the song that does the most with tempo changes, starting slowly with just vocal and guitar, it swells to anthem proportions, until one can imagine an entire stadium shouting along to the “I just don’t feel like a grown-up yet” chorus. Now, if we could just get these guys in some relationships that last, maybe they could enjoy their fame.