Killer Klassix: Man Overboard – “Man Overboard”

“Man Overboard” was a pivotal sophomore album that displayed a growth in technique and musicianship for the band that resulted in an outstanding album.


Antonio Llanos, Staff Writer

It’s extremely difficult to fully enthrall yourself in something that you feel purely passionate about these days. It’s even harder to become creatively autonomous. The steps one takes in order to get to the top are the most important on the path to becoming a self-sufficient individual and define the reputation of said individual. Imagine getting help from the top individuals in the industry; people who’ve experienced the hardships of the industry and who can best advise in order to put you straight on the path to success. Five kids from New Jersey got this exact treatment for their second album. 

“Man Overboard” is the sophomore effort by the band of the same name, released on Sept. 27, 2011, by Rise Records. The album is a collaborative effort of many of the long-standing scene pioneers post-2000s. In the liner notes of the actual album, the band thanks the drummer of post hardcore/screamo band Senses Fail, Dan Trapp, as well as founding member, frontman and vocalist of pop-punk/emo band Bayside, Anthony Raneri. In extension, the record was produced by modern pop punk pioneer and guitarist for New Found Glory, Steve Klein.

Pulling heavy support from the generation prior to the band exhibited not only promise in Man Overboard’s capabilities as artists but more importantly their reputation. Particularly, artists who understood what it meant to be a touring band dedicated to the music, and who were going to remain dedicated even when it was difficult to do so. Fortunately, the album emulated those sentiments and allowed the band to push the envelope with a fresh flair on classic pop-punk sounds. Additionally, it was pivotal for the band who was just coming off of their debut full-length release from smaller, indie Run For Cover records. Releasing with Rise Records allowed for more creative freedom and guided direction for the band. 

“Rare” initiates the self-titled album; wonderfully exploring heartbreak with a vintage, skate punk approach. The beat is fast, mischievous, as though the drummer is playing as fast as possible to sneak in a few notes. The melodic elements are a bit chaotic at first, but smoothly transition into the hook with ease of style. Lyrically the track is equal parts vulnerable and expository, embedding a narrative in experience with emotive lyrics that convey the inner turmoil of an abrupt break up.  

“Dead End Dreams” is a compelling track that employs musical exploration and thematic lyrics to highlight the sacrifices and ideologies needed to be a dedicated artisan (touring musician in this case). The chorus perfectly encapsulates and laments over the sacrifices needed to be successful. Part of what the album capitalizes on is the shared performances of their lead guitarist and bassist, Zac Eisinstein and Nic Bruzzese respectively, establishing a melodic, call-response lyrical composition.  The chorus, sung interchangeably states, “I’ve got nothing to show for these dead end dreams/my heart will ache again it seems/Cause you’re not in my arms,/and all I want to do is keep my promises to you./They’ll come true.” When the chorus is harmonized by both vocalists, beyond musical synergy, it creates a sense of relatability with the listener, as though it echos the laments of an artist who is on giving up on their dreams but is reminded of the faith their support system has in them to carry them through to their big break.

“Something’s Weird” is a great modern take on the skate punk genre. The rhythm is fast-paced, and the melody is supported by the chaos of the fast drums and guitar. Not only do Eisenstein and Bruzzese harmonize the chorus, but they exhibit a cognizant understanding of the sounds that came before them. The track also highlights producer Steve Klein’s musical expertise on guitars, bringing 15 years of playing guitar for New Found Glory to the forefront of the production. It is worth noting the guitars on the album are particularly fine-tuned to both melody and rhythm which allows for ease of transition throughout the album. 

“Punishment” is personally my favorite on the album for its musical, thematic and lyrical synergy. Everything simply clicks on this track. The song is about someone who was cheated on, highlighted by the choral lyrics, “I fell into the hands of punishment/bound by lies and encouragement/By the time you read this I’ll be miles away.” Moreover, the vocal call response composition previously mentioned caters to both the rhythm and melody of the track and further enables the guitar melody to spring nicely throughout the song. 

“Spunn” is particularly appealing because it melds two musical periods of the scene. It is caught in the middle of the modern pop-punk scene of the 2010s and the last of the late 90s to early 2000s scene that prioritized ease of transition into melody. Man Overboard created a track cognizant of both eras of the music and used the metaphor as a catalyst to best express confusion and artistic strife of keeping fans of both happy.

“Picture Perfect” is a faster-paced ballad that uses pop punk to initiate the more emotive East Coast pop-punk part of the album. The music is a memory addled with an exposition of a couple falling apart and guitars that carry an emo pop chorus that envelops the track to an accessible point for new listeners of the band. 

Looking back 11 years after the album’s release, it’s a nice point of communal effort. Following the release of the album, larger acts took the band on as tour support, particularly highlighted by artists who already had the notoriety needed to help a band get recognized is what makes the album that much more special. It really makes you wonder how tied one is going to be to the next generation to help younger talent get a leg up. The advice really hits home, “be careful of the toes you step on, on your way up the ladder, cause it might be the hand you need to reach for later up on the ladder.”