New Jersey pop-punk quintet Man Overboard's self-titled album is the band's second new full-length studio recording, following 2010's Real Talk. Throw in the compilations Before We Met: A Collection of Old Songs and The Human Highlight Reel that collect previously issued singles and EP tracks, and the group has released four albums in a little over 18 months. Such an output is indicative of Man Overboard's youthful drive; this is a band that is in a hurry. The rush is expressed in the breakneck tempos of the short (none over three and a half minutes) songs on Man Overboard, starting with "Rare," which employs speeds of fast, faster, and a little slower, but still pretty fast, seemingly at random. The sound is standard-issue pop-punk in the Green Day/blink-182 manner, with an echo of Jimmy Eat World in the contrasting vocals of bassist Nik Bruzzese and guitarist Zac Eisenstein. In their best strained adenoidal tenors, the singers express their frustrations with life and love as they explore their suburban world under the influence of drugs, a typical American teen nightmare. In "Voted Most Likely," they address someone who is (most likely, that is) in contrast to themselves. "I'd throw a party," one of the singers notes, "but nobody would come." "I got nothing to show for these dead-end dreams" is the chorus of "Dead End Dreams." "Picture Perfect" may be the album's most ambitious song, a story told in the third-person about youthful love. In the closer, "Atlas," there is a doubtful hope in the chorus: "Maybe I'll learn how to talk to people/Maybe I'll learn how to laugh/Maybe I'll end up like my dad/But I just don't feel like a grownup yet." The members of Man Overboard don't bring anything new to the genre of pop-punk except themselves; the dissatisfaction of suburban youth with society remains a perennial that, as they hint, is only resolved by the inevitability of growing up. Of course, they don't have to like that, either.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann