I’ll go straight ahead and say it; Never Hungover Again from California punk band Joyce Manor is the album you wish Blink-182 made for their comeback.
Seriously. It’s short and sweet, and packs one hell of a punch. Of course these kinds of elements are to be expected from a punk rock band, but what is truly great about Never Hungover Again is its versatility. Not just musically, but this album manages to cover the entire spectrum of human emotions within 20 minutes. There a themes of loss, redemption, memory, celebration, restlessness and acceptance.
Joyce Manor is the definition of 90’s punk rock revival and have just given us the album we wish Blink 182 made for their comeback!
Joyce Manor have crafted an album that can suit any situation, which could easily have resulted in something overwhelmingly bland, yet instead this album appeals to the simple notions of what makes us human and what motivates us to do what we do.
Never Hungover Again kicks off in a fitting manner with Christmas Card, disarming the listener with the banging of guitar chords and front man Barry Johnson’s voice wailing about lost connections. You sit up instantly, eager to pay attention. This is paired well with Falling In Love Again, a song that explores the reluctance of finding new love. It is fantastic as both a celebration and lament of love.
With a title like End of the Summer one would assume a slow, ballad type of song. While slowly paced, Joyce Manor treats listeners with a song full of crunching guitars that marches on bitterly. Victoria picks things up again, the pounding drums adding a sense urgency to the proceedings. Shaking things up again is Schley, the lack of chorus giving the song a more free-flowing poetic structure as it trudges through the ideas of craving out uniqueness from the mundane.
Roaring with its thumping bass line, Heart Tattoo features some of the more memorable lyrics off the album. The opening lines “I want a heart tattoo, I want it to hurt really bad. That’s how I’ll know, I’ll know it’s real. A real tattoo”, speaks so much more about the truth of love than any other bullshit ‘love’ song you’ll hear on the radio. It may not be the most clever metaphor, but the image of a heart tattoo really gets to the heart (no pun intended) of how complex love is.
The Jerk continues in the same fashion as it crashes through your speakers, telling the story of trying to find a new beginning before fizzling out with some guitar feedback. The pace picks up with another standout song in the form of In The Army Now. The lyrics reflect the melancholy of no longer being with someone close, yet the jangly guitars throughout the song rings as a celebration. It is a relentless track, yet eases off the accelerator mid-way to create a more somber mood, whilst featuring the album’s only musical bridge.
Clocking in at just over one minute long, Catalina Fight Song flails and thrashes about, examining memories through an angry and restless lens, almost as if Johnson is frustratingly lecturing his younger self. Album closer Heated Swimming Pool takes a more relaxed and rosy approach to memories. The drums are uncharacteristically slowed down with minimal crashes used, while the guitars gently intertwine creating a sweet melody.
Each set of lyrics tell a small part of a larger tale, beckoning the listener to lean closer to hear the whole story. Johnson’s lyrics are those that concern themselves with everyday life, and is done so in a fantastically simple and direct way, as the lyrical content could easily just be a private conversation.
Never Hungover Again is a success and is superb in its minimalist fashion. It’s aggressive without being angry or morbid, and sentimental without becoming cliché. Every strum, beat and vocal is painted with a sense of urgency and purpose.
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