October 7th, 2016 | Album reviews


South Bay four-piece Joyce Manor have been steadily gaining momentum since ’09, which makes them certified old heads in today’s pop-punk-indie-whatever scene. Cody, their fourth full-length and second for the ever-relevant Epitaph Records, is their biggest sonic leap to date, eschewing basement-ready sing-alongs for layered instrumentation and more nuanced songwriting. Fun.’s Nate Ruess even pops up on the swaggering “Angel in the Snow,” as good of an indicator as any that they’ve come a long way from their Asian Man Records days. But make no mistake, the band’s outlook is still distinctly punk – their songs may stretch out a little more, but nothing on Cody feels self-indulgent or predictable. Take album highlight “Last You Heard Of Me”, which starts with a full-band fakeout, drops back to singer/guitarist Barry Johnson alone, then builds back up over three minutes to a chorus of gorgeous vocal harmonies. Or “Do You Really Want To Not Get Better?”, a quick acoustic(!) duet with L.A. folkie Phoebe Bridgers, which takes a stylistic shift most bands would milk for all it’s worth and turns it into a to-the-point lamentation on a friend’s addiction. Joyce Manor aren’t “selling out” or even “growing up”–they’re doing what all great bands do, pushing the boundaries of what it means to be themselves.

—Zach Bilson