Man Overboard has a motto: “Defend Pop Punk.” This motto is a powerful statement, and it fuels a forceful contemporary pop-punk scene run by the likes of The Wonder Years, Set Your Goals and The Story So Far. Despite their motto making them an iconic name in the scene over the last couple years, I was still hesitant to throw Man Overboard into the mix of today’s top pop-punk groups. Their first two albums were solid efforts, but while those two releases broke them into the scene, I felt that they were just a step or two below being of “elite” status. However, after hearing “White Lies,” the first single off their third full-length Heart Attack, I think this band is finally showing their true worth, and with Heart Attack, I have a feeling that Man Overboard will soon (if not before) be standing rank with the best of the best in pop-punk.
“White Lies” is straight and simple, but that’s what makes it so great. Starting off with a catchy guitar riff and catapulting into a bulky sound complete with crushing guitars, groovy bass and drums, the track is a storm of vivacity. While the song is a hard-hitter, the band doesn’t sacrifice their hardcore roots for immaculate hooks. And the hook in “White Lies” is addictive. As Zac Eisenstein punches out the words “A spine / a mind / And I’m just not like them / they’ve got pretty eyes and white lies,” I found myself bouncing around to the beat by second listen. Eisenstein’s vocals bugged me on the band’s past releases, as I didn’t think his voice fit the melodies too well. However, on this song his voice goes hand in hand with the pulsating composition. In addition, some mood-driving backing vocals help intensify the singer’s power, and they create some mad harmonies too.
Although the steadfast instrumentation and great production makes “White Lies” a tremendous pop-punk anthem, it’s the lyrics that get me. I love honesty to death and prefer it over anything fake or artificial, and for that reason this track just strikes deep within me. Eisenstein sings of feeling “different” and not knowing “what everyone else has,” recrafting the popular punk theme of “not fitting in.” And sure, it’s not as great as anything The Wonder Years can write, but the mood of the song is matched by the emotional instrumental vibe, and that’s something that – when created – boosts its overall personality and connective power. If a song has a heart and beats to the tune, it’s got infinite lasting value. And that’s exactly how “White Lies” is.
I’ll take any song with a good hook, and that’s why I love “White Lies” so much. But because it also takes full advantage of raw emotion and raw energy, I love it so much more. Man Overboard has returned with better production, stronger cohesion, and a more straightforward approach, and it works extremely well in this song. I really hope the rest of Heart Attack is as powerful, catchy, and sincere as this first single, because I’m starting to fall in love with the direction this band is taking.