Sad about not being in high school anymore, Joyce Manor write wilfully pop-punk tunes in as few minutes as humanely possible (usually one to two), jangling betwix thrash to make infectious, heartfelt torch songs. This one is called Cody and follows up the lyrically silly but riff-sad Never Hungover Again. Expect a similar outing of short 'n' sweet punx nuggets about nothing in particular.
8/10 Robin Staff review, 10 October 2016
Have Joyce Manor grown up? No, not really. It’d be all well and good if we could elect the pop-punk growing pains cliche to describe their fourth record, ‘Cody’, and I can see the temptation: this is a fairly joyless outing, by their standards, with the twenties sinking in, the feelings hitting hard and the consequences coming totally muted. It’s more pop-punk than ever, but it feels flatter as a result: once, they were a gnarled band playing the catchiest songs as if they were actually a fastcore band (their swell debut); now, they’ve gone even whinier and early oughties pop-punk than they were on ‘Never Hungover Again’.
Still catchy, though; still goes. Opener “Fake I.D.” continues to make true on their game plan of converting absolutely meaningless lyrics into heart-wrung gold, using a banging, tongue-rolliing guitar riff to usher in cries of “what do you think about Kanye West? / I think that he’s great, I think he’s the best / Yeah I think he’s better than John Steinbeck, and I think he’s better than Phil Hartman” -- you wouldn’t think a fucking thing of the lyrics if the band wasn’t all in on them, using the guitars and climaxing drums to bold font something that totally doesn’t need bolding. Such is Joyce Manor: their minute-long songs reach mundane moments and then crash onto them.
‘Never Hungover Again’ already felt a ‘lil dejected, but this record is a thrashing treatise on loneliness, with the cadence of “Eighteen” coming with a sigh of “I feel so old today” and the sum of “Angel In The Snow” (the first pop-punk song written for winter? Get back to me) consisting of a looping riff of melancholy and lyrics about not being able to talk to anyone or do anything. There’s an acoustic tune; there’s a lethargic four minute ballad, with proper chugged chords, about being in love at twenty-six when you’ve got the emotional maturity of a sixteen year old. Even the fun, free songs of pop-punk summertime feel kinda more about the loose ends -- “Last You Heard of Me” puts the band in a parking lot smoking cigs, but goes on to lament the best romance that never happened.
For the most part, I’m glad all these Joyce Manor tunes end before they get a chance to burn bright: it gives the hooks a longing, an emptiness, that suits their lost vibe, their Weezer-adjacent existentialism. This record is far from perfect, and it’s a long way from what made the band so glorious on their self-titled record, but the way this band is never stoked on anything, even when the music they're making is? That'll stick with you.
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