Cody, Joyce Manor’s fourth album, finds its strength in embodying everything that makes pop punk great, while skirting from common pitfalls. The songs are (mostly) short, fast and loud, the melodies are catchy and the lyrics relatable. Thankfully, there’s also none of the juvenility or casual misogyny which can be unfortunately present in the scene. Joyce Manor demonstrate their enhanced sophistication while not straying far from what makes them an appealing act in the first place.
For the most part, Cody is more a refinement than a drastic change. “Last You Heard of Me”, one of the strongest tracks on the album, is another exploration of suburban boredom and coming of age. In fact, most of the themes explored are pretty standard; failed romance, Californian suburbia, disillusionment etc. are all pop punk paradigms that arise. However, Joyce Manor approach these topics with a sincerity and insight that’s often lacking in other artists; “Do You Really Want to Not Get Better?” exhibits vast sympathy and wisdom for a simple acoustic track that’s barely a minute long. Yes, sometimes the lyrics are awkward on paper (“How come nothing amazes me?” goes the chorus of “Angel in the Snow”). However, it’s this sincerity of Barry Johnson’s delivery that allows the band to sell these lines better than most.
Cody is also a well-constructed record. Rob Schnapf (who has worked with the likes of Elliott Smith and Saves the Day) proves an inspired choice as producer, creating a mix that is clean but suitably raw. The performance is tight and full of winning cathartic bursts. Sometimes, the briefness of the songs works against the band, such as “Make Me Dumb”, which fades out without making the most of its momentum. Still, the band are also masters at managing a lot in a short space of time. For example, “Over Before it Began” is such a killer track it doesn’t need to last longer than 2:51 to make an impact.
Sure, Cody isn’t anything remarkably new sonically or lyrically. It is, however, a mature outing with astounding depth for its 25-ish minute running time. Joyce Manor have succeeded in creating a satisfying and engaging album. What more could you ask for?
Cody is out now on Epitaph Records.
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