Man Overboard - Before We Met: A Collection of Old Songs (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Man Overboard

Before We Met: A Collection of Old Songs (2010)


Man Overboard sound like an outfit whose members are finally old enough to form a band so the first thing they do when they can is kick out a bunch of songs dripping with the watermark of their influences, devoid of much originality or anything else. Those influences read like the results a survey of any random group of 13-15-year-olds around the turn of the last century that considered themselves into current pop-punk: early Saves the Day; early Taking Back Sunday; A New Found Glory; and early Brand New. In anticipation of their new full-length, Real Talk, they have released Before We Met: A Collection of Old Songs. Now, the title may be cause for preemptive weariness in that it is a collection reissuing the band's older recordings, which is rarely a hallmark affair for any band; however, when you combine that with a band that isn't particularly original, all that we really get to see is raw potential without the benefit of time to develop songwriting. So should we trust those cold feet? Not completely, because while this collection isn't very original, there is some decent punky pop songs on here.

Opener "Love Your Friends, Die Laughing" is a short acoustic song that shows off the band's strengths in its relate-able lyrics, layered vocals and hooky songwriting. Its stripped-down approach also highlights one of the problems with a lot of songs here, in that bland, glossy production tends to remove much of the "punk" qualities of the songs and actually serves to create a barrier between the band and listener. The other trip down acoustic lane, however, lacks much of the previous song's charms as it strolls down the streets of Dashboard Confessional melodrama.

While production seems to neuter much of the first half of the album ("Dreaming," "The Real You," "Disconnect"), the second half feels more generic but immediate. The choppy "The Usual Results" has parts that sound like they could be lifted directly from a Movielife song and "In Orbit" feels like a shoe-in for a Through Being Cool outtake. The most troubling aspect of this whole collection is when the band does step out of their comfort zone on "Top Eight," which combines some electronic elements and guitar effects--the results are laughably bad, overwrought cheese. I hate to say it but maybe the band should stick to by-the-numbers, early 2000s punk/hardcore-influenced pop songs.

The only type of person I could see this collection having any sort of value for is someone in desperate need of a nostalgia kick from the early 2000s, and frankly, if you are old enough to be feeling nostalgic about life you have probably existed long enough to have looked for some music with slightly more redeeming qualities. Or maybe not, but all I know is that out of this whole collection there is less than a handful of songs worth listening to as a fan of this genre.