Release Date: Jul 22, 2014
Record label: Epitaph
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Emo-Pop, Punk Revival
Joyce Manor is straight to the point. Always were. Always will be. Never Hungover Again doesn't deviate from that plan. It sticks to their stylistic guns but also decides to foray into new avenues fans were intrigued to see them wander in, and also into even more surprising little nooks and ….
Joyce Manor's first album for Epitaph is also their first album to be recorded in a nice studio and it's mixed by indie rock lifer Tony Hoffer, who has worked for Belle and Sebastian and Beck, to name two big artists. Those are the facts that might scare away fans of the California emo revivalists, since they don't really fit in with the decidedly lo-fi, D.I.Y. approach the group took on its first two albums (2010's Joyce Manor and 2012's Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired).
Joyce Manor’s debut self-titled album was always destined to become a cult classic. Oozing with effortlessly cool, incessantly catchy pop punk, its wispy melodies and deadbeat lyricism undeniably played a huge part in spearheading the so-called emo revival that since followed its release in 2011. Appetites for a follow-up were left desirably wet after that - ‘Joyce Manor’ was a record of refreshingly vital punk rock, and when ‘Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired’ emerged later in 2012, it was hard to believe they’d topped it with a collection of songs that totalled just thirteen minutes.
Beginning with the band's self-titled debut in 2011, Joyce Manor have woven desperate, melancholic pop-punk anthems, stitching in stale booze, lost loves and fear of what the future may bring. They deliver a paradoxical brand of loneliness, the kind a room full of people can shout along to. With Never Hungover Again, Joyce Manor seem to have sobered up a bit, but their despondent punk energy is still very much alive.Joyce Manor have softened with their new record – they haven't let go of their youthful melancholy, but they have shed the harshness that can be heard in their previous albums.
Pop-punk has certain stylistic rules about song structure and topicality that detractors often refer to as clichés, and it’s much easier to break these rules than to do something notable within them. The latter explains how Joyce Manor have grown to be one of the most popular and interesting bands in their realm: yes, they’re from Torrance, California and write 90-second, hook-filled songs called “Orange Julius” and “Leather Jacket”. They also take prog-like liberties with format and assume their subject matter is as fascinating as science fiction.
Even if you find yourself loving Joyce Manor, there’s a chance you’d feel a slight bit of embarrassment when listening to their music for the first time (and maybe even on subsequent listens). You’d probably sit there – a full grown adult no less – thinking to yourself, “What the hell? I stopped taking music like this seriously years ago, and here I am surrendering myself to this band’s flurry of pop punk hooks like a kid who spends his time longboarding around the mall. ” Well, aside from the fact that this person probably takes himself WAAAY too seriously, it’s not so strange to find a lot to love about Joyce Manor even if most pop punk makes you cringe, as their bracing, stripped down immediacy, unkempt sound, and emotionally relatable-yet-ambiguous lyricism make them less Warped Tour and more 90’s post-hardcore/emo – not so Blink-182 as they are Archers of Loaf.
Joyce Manor might have a shiny new record deal with Hollywood punk powerhouse Epitaph, but the Californians have kept things decidedly lo-fi on their third album. From the moment the lazy chords of opener ‘Christmas Card’ trundle out of the speakers, what’s in store becomes clear: vintage slacker punk. Punctuated by singer Barry Johnson’s throaty vocals, this is the kind of record that made Weezer and The Replacements so brilliant.
Just 20 minutes long, the quick slice of time that is Joyce Manor’s second LP swings dramatically between belly laughs and gut punches. Mostly, though, it dishes out the latter. Never Hungover Again represents a tightening of the California punk band’s sound and also a new stroke of bravery. The album, produced by Joe Reinhardt, breaches a higher fidelity than either their self-titled debut from 2011 or 2012’s Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired.
The opening of Joyce Manor’s third full-length—and first for punk rock’s version of a major label, Epitaph Records—Never Hungover Again may as well be a direct challenge to its fans in the DIY scene. Though the band’s never explicitly labeled itself as such, its self-titled debut in 2011 galvanized that community, with nearly every fan of punk (in all its various permutations) standing at attention for the Torrance, Calif. four-piece.
The title of this California quartet’s third album is one of those declarations made after waking up filled with regret: In the future, the idea goes, that person will never be worn out by partying too much the night before — which of course means not getting too deep into fun in the first place. The album’s 10 taut tracks are filled with moments where “it all goes wrong,” as vocalist Barry Johnson yelps on “The Jerk,” although the tightly wound songs are too meticulously plotted for much wallowing. (The longest clocks in at 2:30.) The resentful “In the Army Now” and determined “Heart Tattoo” clip along thanks to sprightly, melodic bass lines from Matt Ebert and Kurt Walcher’s clockwork drumming.
The title of Joyce Manor's 2012 effort Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired proffered a self-fulfilling prophecy. While their sophomore album expanded the Torrance, California, band's scope to include alluring shades of new wave and lo-fi influence that pushed their power-pop-corroded punk into new waters, envisioning a hypothetical scenario where Guided By Voices decided to record a "punk" EP in the mid-’90s, the band almost disowned it outright. Granted, its acoustic asides and sporadic keyboards seemingly precluded them from translating the songs live with ease, but even so, very few made the cut (judging from a general perusal of their documented set lists since the album's release).