Neck Deep - A History of Bad Decisions
Aug 6, 2019 (updated Sep 25, 2019)
86
The album that combines the two EPs Rain In July / A History of Bad Decisions isn't on this website, so I'll just write this here.

Neck Deep are my favourite band of all time. Granted, I don't listen to a LOT of music, but everything I have listened to has paled in comparison to these boys from Wales. I have enjoyed everything they've put out, even their latest single She's a God, which is a banger and has me so excited for their fourth studio record.

For no real reason, I decided to give these two EPs another listen. Naturally, I've already listened to each song countless times, but I don't think I've heard the entire album all at once more than once. I wasn't sure what to expect, assuming it'd most likely be disappointing, but it actually holds up incredibly well.

Anyway, as mentioned a few times now, this is a combination of their two EPs. I think it's an overall better experience listening to it as one album, just because there's more to enjoy. There isn't really a theme or story that ties it all together, not that there needs to be. It's just some songs thrown together, but it still works.

Kick It starts us off with a sample from Back to the Future (my favourite movie). Specifically the scene where Marty's band auditions for the school dance and they are told their performance is too loud. I'm sure you know the one, he writes out as if anyone is actually reading this. I'm getting sidetracked, but it's a good start despite being pretty short. It also has some nice lines that parallel with later song A Part Of Me.

Silver Lining begins right where Kick It ends, as it bleeds into the next song. I always get a kick out of it when albums do this. Probably one of the weaker tracks for me, but still has some compelling lyrics and I enjoy it more than I don't.

What Did You Expect? is, I believe, the first song Neck Deep ever wrote. Back when the band was just Ben Barlow and former guitarist Lloyd Roberts, they wrote this song and also I Couldn't Wait To Leave 6 Months Ago. Both songs are pretty good and show a lot of potential, especially the former. What Did You Expect? is about a girl that cheated on Ben and as a result, it's a very angry and hateful sort of song, both musically and lyrically; it just feels very aggressive to listen to. It does become more hopeful as the song continues, ending on what I consider to be an iconic line in "I guess I'll be fine." Good stuff.

Over and Over is my favourite of these first four songs and has a really explosive outro. The rest of the song is, predictably, also quite good. I don't know, there's just something about this one that I really like but can't exactly put my finger on. It has a lot of energy and spunk, let's call it. I should not use that word, but I have. I imagine this song was a crowd favourite whenever they performed it live.

A Part Of Me is undoubtedly Neck Deep's biggest song. It's their most viewed music video, it's one of their most played songs on Spotify, it's a massive song for them. As a result, it's very easy to convince yourself that it's not as good as some say and that it's just popular because it's the "token acoustic track" that appeals to the mainstream audience. While that is true to an extent, there's no doubt that this song hits hard in the feels. I never appreciated Ben's vocals on this, as he strains his voice at several points and sounds desperate. While it could easily just be some poor singing, I think it adds a lot to the song and really does a good job at showcasing how much this girl meant to him. He's singing as hard as he can and it did kind of get to me. I also love the outro, where Ben and feature Laura Whiteside sing over each other. Overall, it's a lot better than I remember it being and I can definitely see why it's one of their biggest songs.

I Couldn't Wait To Leave 6 Months Ago is another song that I don't remember being as good as it ended up being. I really like the guitars in the intro, and some of Ben's lyrics are super relatable. I also just like the title of the song, I don't really know why. I see some of Can't Kick Up The Roots in this song, if only for the fact that it's about Ben's hometown.

All Hype, No Heart ends the Rain In July portion of the album and despite only being 42 seconds, it's definitely my least favourite track on here. But again, as with the last two tracks, I did find myself enjoying it more than usual. By far one of the most aggressive songs they've made, the EP literally ends with the line "Go fuck yourself". Though while I don't hate the song, it does come off as a bit whiny and it's definitely not one of my favourites Neck Deep have made.

Up In Smoke takes us into A History Of Bad Decisions and is yet another aggressive song about Ben's struggles to live up to the expectations of his parents, I believe. I'm pretty sure this song has to do with him dropping out of university to pursue this very band. Correct me if I'm wrong. Given the subject matter, it's one of the more personal songs on here and starts off this EP well enough. And while I don't think it's bad, Ben's vocals on this track are pretty awkward, I guess is the word.

Tables Turned is by far the best song on this entire project. The instrumentation is great and the lyrics are some of Ben's best, as he talks about a girl that seems to have lead him on, and now the tables have turned and he's off in a better place while he hopes that she hates the "taste of your own medicine". This song is just nice to listen to, it feels therapeutic and like a massive load off your chest. I also love the fact this song has no chorus, so it just feels super drivey and flows really nice, it never gets boring. It makes it one of the more unique tracks from Neck Deep, in that regard. I think this is one of their best songs to date and I really love it.

Head To The Ground closes out the album and is another great song, probably my second favourite on here. While Tables Turned was all about getting out of a relationship, Head To The Ground talks about the joy and excitement of finally meeting someone that wants to put up with your shit. But it also talks about the fear and doubts you may have when approaching something like that. It makes the song super relatable and real. It's kind of a funny contrast and ends the album in a positive manner. The song is also structurally really well put together, as one half is acoustic and the other half explodes into a full band sound. I personally love the line "Maybe we'll be okay. Maybe you'll stop me from digging my own fucking grave." Once again, one of my favourites from Neck Deep and a great end to the album. It could also potentially mirror or be connected to Lime St., mainly due to the overall theme of this girl saving him. Personally, I can't see it all that much.

Wow, I did not mean to write all this shit out. I probably left out a lot of stuff and most likely didn't talk about the actual music enough, but what can you do when your knowledge of music is pretty limited. Anyway, if you couldn't tell, I was very satisfied with this album and it only gets better from here, bar Wishful Thinking. Though then again, it may blow me away if I give it another listen as this did. I guess that's all. Bye.

Favourite tracks: Tables Turned, Head To The Ground, Over and Over, A Part Of Me

Least favourite tracks: Silver Lining, Up In Smoke, All Hype No Heart

Track list ratings:

1. Kick It - 8/10
2. Silver Lining - 7/10
3. What Did You Expect? - 8/10
4. Over and Over - 9/10
5. A Part Of Me (feat. Laura Whiteside) - 9/10
6. I Couldn't Wait To Leave 6 Months Ago - 8/10
7. All Hype, No Heart - 6/10
8. Up In Smoke - 7/10
9. Tables Turned - 10/10
10. Head To The Ground - 10/10
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