The Manix – Neighbourhood Wildlife

The words “pop punk” hold a different meaning to modern music than they did ten or fifteen years ago. Nowadays, when you hear those two fateful words, the images that spring to mind are screaming youngsters, pouting singers, and hooks almost as bouncy as band members’ various hairstyles. The old guard of what some may refer to as “proper” or, God-forbid, “real” pop punk seem to have left us. Bands like Green Day and Blink-182 have grown up and started writing straight-up rock anthems, while Sum 41 are, in all honesty, past their best. Only the heroes of New Found Glory stand proud and declare pop punk “not dead”, and as wonderful as they are, they can’t go on forever. However, just as the future of the genre seems set, The Manix step forward, a band determined to continue NFG’s empowering message.

From the opening drumbeat of “Fingers Crossed”, it’s clear that this album is not your average, middle-of-the-road bouncing pop punk half-hour. The thick bassline and power-chord guitars instantly bring to mind early Sum 41 work, while the gruff vocals of frontman Corey Ayd position this band firmly in the ‘punk’ side of the pop punk camp. Ayd is no stranger to the world of punk, having previously been a part of Banner Pilot, and his experience in the genre shows through as you begin to roll through the tracks. “Where Do We Go?” is a simple but effective bang-along tune, while the intriguingly titled “What’s Myage Again?” (no, not a typo) provides the first big highlight of the album, with a great instant-vocal opening and scream-along chorus providing the basis for what would undoubtedly be a beloved anthem in a live setting.

Fifth track, “A Quiet Wry Anger”, provides another highlight for the simple reason that it’s something a little different. Just as the album begins to feel somewhat formulaic, the slightly more rhythmical guitar and longer instrumental sections provide a welcome relief. However, sadly, this track is an exception, not a rule. The band’s reliance on the punk genre starts as a strength, but soon develops into a negative on the album – to put it brutally honestly, much of this album sounds the same. There are a couple of stand out tracks – the aforementioned couple, plus the absolutely superb closer “This Old House”, which is certainly an example of saving the best for last – but overall, not many of the albums’ tracks sound any different from the others. While some bands (yes, Mumfords, I’m looking at you) have made a career out of playing the same song twelve times and calling it an album, one leaves this particular record feeling plenty entertained, but perhaps lacking a sense of inventiveness. If The Manix don’t find that element, then sadly they may be destined to just stay in the pile in future, yet another punk band trying to drag themselves out of obscurity. But if they pull it out of the bag, then based on the raw talent displayed on this record, the music world could have something huge on their hands.

Three out of five high fives!

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