Joyce Manor’s ‘Cody’ is polished pop-punk

Joyce Manor's long awaited fourth album

California-based pop-punk band Joyce Manor released their fourth album “Cody” on October 7 under Epitaph Records. The album comes two years after “Never Hungover Again” which received positive feedback.

The band formed in 2008 and is comprised of lead vocalist and guitarist Barry Johnson, guitarist Chase Knobbe, drummer Jeff Enzor and bassist and back-up vocalist Matt Ebert.

Though “Cody” as made under Epitaph Records as well as their previous album, the band brought on a new producer, Robert Schnapf. Schnapf has worked with artists Elliott Smith, Saves the Day, Guided by Voices, etc.

“Cody” is their most professional studio album to date. The ages of the band members, nearing 30, reflects the progression of lyrics, instrumentals and tone of the album.

The band teased their new album back in August by posting a music video to accompany their single “Fake I.D.” which is the first song on the album.

“Fake I.D.” kicks off the album with the band’s dry humor referring to the hook about Kanye West. A conversation with a drunk and hot girl about “Drunk and Hot Girls” when she says ‘I think he [West] is better than John Steinbeck and I think he’s better than Phil Hartman.’ It jumps from fake I.D.s and disappointing conversations about taste to overall youth in “Eighteen.”

“Eighteen” connects back to the angst of the teenage years and the moody lyrics that is pop punk simultaneously. It sets up nicely for a second chorus which ultimately never comes, common Joyce Manor format, but leaves with a feeling of closure, like it is enough this time.

They kept it short and sweet in “Do You Really Want to Not Get Better?” with a plucky acoustic guitar and a harmonic melody throughout that lifted the somber notes about addiction and rejection. It’s their slowest, softest and shortest song on the album, clocking in at 1:16.

“Last You Heard of Me” starts with a few harsh strikes and leads to a simple narrative that, this time, does leave you wanting more as does “Over Before It Began.” Feelings toward the perhaps fictional significant other in this song alluding to a deeper connection than in “Last You Heard of Me” but hold the same theme of lost love.

“Stairs” and “This Song Is a Mess but So Am I” close out the album with some of the most subtle and heartfelt lyrics. As the songs play, it’s not just listening. It’s imagining a sweet serenade unfold in the quaintest of places.

Overall, the album is more lifted than previous. S/T and ‘Never Hungover Again’ are more stop and go with heavy instrumentals flooding the song even at the first second. “Cody” is softer, at times, since Johnson’s singing has more melody than before but still hangs onto the pop-punk passion through the lyrics. It goes off on tangents and strays but ultimately and perhaps without notice or fail connects back to the roots of Joyce Manor while reaching new heights.

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