Man Overboard - Heavy Love (Album Review)

Honestly, 2010 feels like so long ago in the musical landscape. That's when Man Overboard dropped Real Talk which was one of the more loved pop/punk albums of "their" time. I say "their" time because it's been a long five years in the pop/punk genre and we've seen more and more pop/punk bands being championed by listeners. Bands like The Wonder Years have transcended to become something slightly bigger than pop/punk while bands like Neck Deep, Real Friends, and Knuckle Puck have become tumblr loved fan favorites of the genre. They are the new crowned princes of the genre for the moment. So for a band like Man Overboard who still maintain a large amount of popularity and interest, but haven't made that big shift like The Wonder Years, I was more than interested to see what Heavy Love would sound like. Man Overboard has been a band I've enjoyed a ton. They are the kind of band that can have a large Warped Tour draw and support bands like All Time Low on tour. There have been a few duds here and there music wise, but overall they've given me a ton of good pop/punk songs. I've heard quite a bit of push back from critics and fans looking for a little more in the lyrical department and maybe some progression. I thought Heart Attack was a good album, but knew the band hadn't written their best album yet. When Heavy Heart was announced I felt like this needed to be some of the band's best material to date. I had some pretty high expectations and wondered what the band would deliver this time around.

On first look at the album artwork it's pretty darn eye catching and it's probably the best album artwork the band has ever had for any of their releases. It reminds me a little of Sugarcult's Palm Trees And Power Lines. Noticeably absent from the artwork is the band's classic heart and cross guns logo. The album was produced by Bill Stevenson who if you don't know at this point—get familiar (cough cough: Descendents/All/fantastic producer)! He always knows his way around this sound and the one thing the band really got with him at the helm is a really good sounding record which honestly is something important I think the band always get right. All of their albums have had solid production. Some of the stuff on here lets the punk vibes rule the pop vibes and I think the production techniques of Stevenson really has a lot to do with that.

Everything here is polished just enough to be really accessible while still maintaining enough of the punk edge. I think on the band's last album, Heart Attack, it was very much a pop/punk album but the guitars and the drums had more of a rock sound to them. On Heavy Heart I definitely get more of a punk rock vibe on the production and sound. In essence this album isn't too far of a stretch in sound and style from previous Man Overboard albums. At this point in their career they have found their formula, although they throw in a thing or two here. In some spots you might get some hardcore back-up vocals. They might throw in a part that catches you off guard. There are a lot of really neat sounding lead guitar parts thrown in that I really enjoy on this album. For the most part this is Man Overboard writing catchy pop/punk songs with trade-off vocals, heavy riffs, and pretty catchy moments. I'd still love to hear the band push themselves a little further into slightly newer territory, but you can't deny that after four albums and various EPs and compilations that the band still has the ability to continuously write catchy songs.

"She's In The Picture" is one of the bigger standouts from the album. I really like the mixing and production style in the intro of the song. The guitar riff is super infectious and the drums sound really nice. I think it has some definite single potential. "Cliffhanger" has a more hard hitting pop/punk style. It has some of those heavy vocals I was talking about. It's a blistering song that is sure to be a fan favorite live. I really like the all around performance of the band on "Deal". The guitars, vocals, and drums all ignite in the perfect manner and deliver one of the stronger songs on the album. It's another song I could see being a fan favorite from the album. It feels a little more like the band moving towards something different and almost leaning on 90s alternative rock influences. It works really well. The songs flow pretty nicely. There's a good amount of energy found on the album. Some bands start to lack energy in the songs after a few albums, but Man Overboard has been able to maintain it on this album.

One criticism that this album is going to get is about the lyrics. There are definitely moments on this album when the lyrics feel a little cheesy. It is pop/punk so I'm not trying to judge it too harshly, but occasionally there is a corny lyric. That's not to say that there aren't some pretty good, well put together lyrics on here because in my opinion there are. The lyrics don't hurt my enjoyment of this album at all. However, I can understand why some people might not like them. I find a lot of sing-a-long-able parts.

Man Overboard has written another standout pop/punk album with Heavy Heart. It's their tried and true style. It may not be as instantly exciting of an album as the first time you heard Real talk, but if you've enjoyed the band up until this point then I think this album holds more than a few great moments. Their style may be wearing thin for a few people, but with the production choice as well as the performances on this album I find it to be a pretty uplifting fun listen. I would really be interested to hear the band push their sound a little farther in the future, but I think Heavy Love is a really fun summer pop/punk album.

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