Man Overboard - Real Talk

Album cover
Pop-punk
Run For Cover Records
Man Overboard
Real Talk
Man Overboard - Real Talk Review rating:
3
User rating:
Average: 5 (3 votes)

Man Overboard must be on Cloud 9 right now. These past two years have been especially kind to the four piece from New Jersey, as they have experienced a meteoric rise from a local talent to pop-punk cult heroes. Especially after the acclaimed Dahlia, fans having been craving a full-length. Without further ado, Real Talk is finally here. Though the new material has seen the light of day because of an unfortunate leak, Man Overboard have received heaps of praise for their record, building up even more momentum for further success. However, people dubbing the band as pop-punk’s next best thing are too hasty with their conclusions. I am not discrediting or putting down the band’s efforts—they deserve nothing but the best—but compared to their peers, Man Overboard have many issues that need to be fixed before claiming that title. Real Talk contains plenty brilliant moments, but is not devoid of weakness. Still, the band’s massive potential is clearly there, but needs further cultivation. The new record will surely satisfy avid fans, but those on the fence may still not be convinced.

When the band says, “Defend Pop-Punk,” they clearly mean it; it is not just a catch phrase or a gimmick for their image. Instead, they exude and internalize the ideals of the genre to the T. In some ways, this can be advantageous. The hooks are there in full force—probably some of the band’s best to date. Additionally, they crank up the musicianship, as “Fantasy Girl” features some creative drumming from Justin Collier. However, there are serious pitfalls by doing so. Compared to the group’s previous works, the lyrics are explicitly cheesy. Take “World Favorite” for example. The chorus contains “I think you’re my favorite girl I’ve met.” Definitely not creative or poetic, but the chorus is catchy enough that we can overlook this lyrical deficiency. In the end, who can’t relate to a topic about love? Despite how simple the lyrics may be, ultimately, they are relatable to all audiences, whether you are 16 or 25. Besides, looking back, many of our favorite pop-punk albums—Say It Like You Mean It comes to mind—had similar faults. The main concern with this is that the band’s writing has essentially moved backwards; Dahlia’s lyrics frequently tiptoed the fine line between poignancy and banality, but it was never outwardly cliché. In future releases, hopefully Man Overboard can rectify this problem.

Aside from the lyricism, the most egregious flaw of Real Talk is the vocals; bassist Nik Bruzzese criminally absent at times. We’ve seen the man thrive under the spotlight in Noise From Upstairs, yet for some inexplicable reason the division of the vocals is the record is about same between Bruzzese and guitarist Zac Eiestenstein. Eiestenstein is definitely not a strong vocalist and at times his voice can be so whiney that Dave MacKinder would blush. Consequently, inherently catchy songs like “FM Dial Style” and “She’s Got Her Own Man Now” are spoiled because of the particularly painful vocals from Eiestenstein. If the band hopes to improve their overall sound, they should lean heavily on Bruzzese and use Eiestenstein sparingly. “Montrose” is a fine example of a song the band should strive to make. Using Nik as the focal point, the track absolutely soars. With well-placed gang vocals and a tremendous melody, “Montrose” is easily the best song on the record. Unfortunately, it is a carryover from Dahlia, which demonstrates the lack of progression from the hailed extended play.

Undoubtedly, Real Talk has it share of flaws. But as stated earlier, there is plenty to like. Especially when compared to older works such as Hung Up On Nothing, the hooks are stronger than ever. A handful of the songs are lasting, some are even exceptional. Man Overboard’s latest single “Fantasy Girl” proves this claim. With its driving pace and hook-laden chorus, it is a well-done pop-punk song. Other pertinent examples of quality offerings are “Al Sharpton” and “I Like You.” Clearly, Man Overboard know how to write good music. From this point on, their primary goal should be fine tuning their sound and overall craft. As long as Nik Bruzzese establishes himself as the band’s foundation, the problems with the vocals should sort themselves out. In terms of songwriting, they should look back on their work in Dahlia and progress from there. Man Overboard’s star will shine, but how brightly will depend on how they develop.

1. Real Talk2.
2. World Favorite
3. Fantasy Girl
4. Parting Gift
5. Darkness, Everybody
6. She’s Got Her Own Man Now
7. Al Sharpton
8. Montrose
9. FM Dial Style
10. I Like You
11. Septemberism
12. Sidekick

Nik - Bass / Vocals
Wayne - Guitar
Justin - Drums
Zac - Guitar / Vocals

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