Nine days remain until Joyce Manor release their fourth LP, Cody. In the six years since their 2010 Split with Summer Vacation, the pop-punk/emo quartet has matured in a familiar trajectory. The group toned down the blunt twenty-something angst of their 2011 self-titled debut, added in power-pop motifs and continued putting out unpretentious vignettes through 2012’s Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired and 2014’s Never Hungover Again.
“Fake I.D.,” the first single off of Cody (slated for an October 7 release), resembled the Brit pop-inspired “Heated Swimming Pool” far more than any of the group’s latchkey SoCal musings. I freaked a little when I first heard it, to be honest. Oh no, I wondered, are Joyce Manor losing their edge? After all, I had fallen in love with the band because of tracks that indulged the pettiness and immaturity that, I’ll be real, I often felt during at the close of my teenage years. (“When you make a decent living, will you buy me a train set and a hat?/So that I can sit alone in my room, sending people away from the ones they love,” singer/guitarist Barry Johnson asks on Never Hungover Again’s “Derailed.”)
The sad mundanity is back on “Last You Heard Of Me,” Cody’s second single, which was released on September 14. The track finds Johnson drinking beer, considering smoking weed in the parking lot (“I’d go with but I don’t touch the stuff/Unless I wanna go to sleep”) and bumming around aimlessly. Yet, in a recognizable Joyce Manor move, Johnson suddenly grows serious in the song’s last four lines. After locking eyes with someone looking for matches in her purse, Johnson “see[s] everything/Start to finish, sad defeat/Shivering, lying naked next to you/And that’s the last you heard of me.”
I like Joyce Manor so much because they (seemingly effortlessly) put all of the weirdness and awkwardness of being twenty-something into short, uncomplicated songs. “Last You Heard Of Me,” in its closing moments no less, conveys an unexpected swell of intensity and emotion that comes from nowhere and disappears just as quickly, leaving only malaise behind. Maybe we should just be thankful that pop-punk got to end up at Joyce Manor.
Shay Collins is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at email@example.com.