Heavy LoveRise Records
By Dustin Blumhagen
In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit that I never really cared for Heart Attack, which felt like a less vital release than the pop punk group’s self-titled album. So naturally, with such different views of their past releases, listening to Heavy Love for the first time was met with great trepidation. Music is such a personal experience that it is difficult to separate one’s current life circumstances from their view of any given song.
Like their name suggests, there are more than a few moments where Blink 182’s influence shines clear. But Man Overboard are more than a simple tribute band. Their sound has grown over the years, perhaps bolstered by their extensive recording catalogue. Some bands release 10 songs every 3 years, whereas these guys consistently release acoustic songs, live tracks and other random musical offerings for fans. While their style leans more toward the pop end of the spectrum than pop punk groups like The Story So Far or Four Year Strong, they have more to offer than bands like All Time Low or 5 Seconds of Summer.
While the vocals are easily identifiable as Zac Eisenstein, the music explores a wider territory than the band have ventured into before. In the past we’ve seen a heavy emo influence on stand out tracks like Montrose, but for the most part the group hasn’t strayed too far from their pop punk roots. This time around we see elements of power pop on Now That You’re Home and alt rock on the 90s radio friendly Deal. Unfortunately, both of those tracks fall flat and beg for the skip button. Much like the new stuff from Fireworks, these sort of tracks fit awkwardly alongside pop punk. The band excel with straightforward tracks like For Jennie. Their boundary pushing does work sometimes, such as on the loud and fast Cliffhanger, which is an easycore gem in the vein of Set Your Goals. This is a solid track which has hints of skate punk and hardcore, which help it stand out on the album. On Invincible the band adopts a swing swagger, which is vaguely reminiscent of Green Day’s Hitchin’ A Ride if the trio were raised on Blink 182 rather than the Descendents. It is an undeniably interesting track.
The album feels a little bit disjointed as the guys explore a wide range of influences. The thread that weaves it all together is an appreciation of pop music, but the variety of sounds fails to create a cohesive album. In a modern world where some people thrive on buying single tracks, this won’t be an issue, but those who prefer their albums as a whole, this is a strange offering from an established band.