Man Overboard’s personal motto is “Defend pop punk”. They’ve been fronting this statement since their debut album Real Talk in 2010. Four years down the line and nothing has changed. They’re still the same band making the music they love, which happens to be a rather brooding version of pop punk. It’s something that many “pop punk fans” give them enormous flak for, considering that they’re more pop than punk and have acoustic guitars in the songs rather than pummeling punk-styled guitar riffs. I wonder if they know that not every pop punk band is going to be like Story of the Year. Rather save that fury for bands trying to pass pop rock off for pop punk.
Nevertheless, Man Overboard shrugs off people’s perception of them in their new EP Passing Ends. They continue to exude their melancholic and touching brand of pop punk in a way that is bound to anger anybody who considers them to be a fake pop punk band. Electric guitars are traded in for acoustic guitars – much in the way that Story of the Year decided to release an acoustic EP earlier this year.
They depressingly greet you with opening song “Twenty Years”. From the opening guitar chords, you know that this EP is going to be a one journey down Feels Avenue. The gorgeous dual vocals of Zac Eisenstein and Nik Bruzzese accompany you as you venture down a street that is surprisingly familiar. It is the same one that you’ve ventured down after a break-up or whenever you’ve felt defeated by the world and everything around you.
“Passing Ends” is the only song to feature electric guitars, but that doesn’t stop it from sounding melancholic or containing an over-dose of emotions. The added faint screamed vocals that crop in the background on the lyric “and suddenly there is nothing left” adds to the hopeless despair that seems to be being felt by Eisenstein and Bruzzese. “Stood Up” takes you back into the realm of mournful acoustic pop punk. From that point until the final song on this five track EP, Man Overboard stick to taking you on a throwback journey to those emo days of sitting on your roof and listening to Dashboard Confessional, or was that just me?
People can lambast Man Overboard for being more pop than punk and ridicule them for wearing their hearts on their sleeves, but there is no denying that there is a pop punk quality to their music. You will have these gritty, raw songs stuck in your head and you will find yourself singing along at some point too. Man Overboard can go defending pop punk.