Album Reviews

Million Dollars To Kill Me - Joyce Manor (Epitaph)

Jonathan Strock

After ten long years, four albums and a few line up changes, the legendary Californian emo, pop punk band Joyce Manor have returned with their fifth album Million Dollars To Kill Me and this time instead of dwelling on teenage angst, they have finally showed us that even emos have to mature at some point.

With the help of hardcore punk guitarist Kurt Ballou of Converge, Joyce Manor have followed up their excellent 2016 coming of age based album Cody with an album that shows what happens once those glorious teenage years are over and when you need to put down the the black eyeliner and pick up the briefcase.

While many bands choose to ignore the unavoidable disadvantage of getting older and losing touch, Joyce Manor embrace this and use it as an influence, even merging it with their classic emo touch, particularly on the opening track Fighting Kangaroo, which displays lyrics about getting old and waiting for the girl of your dreams.

It’s all not sad though, on track Big Lie, Joyce Manor put a subtle comedic twist on the song with lyrics about getting old, boring and spending your evenings watching Law and Order on TV.

One surprise on this album is how much lead singer and guitarist Barry Johnston is inspired by millionaires and money, notably singing previously about how money and alcohol aren’t needed for a good time, he takes a new direction claiming he was channelling Elon Musk and Jimmy Loving on acoustic ballad I’m Not The One.

While Joyce Manor are great song writers, when it comes to the power pop, pop punk and alternative rock genres, it’s become almost like that’s all they’re good for. The band have stuck too close to familiar territories and the furthest they go out of their comfort zone is a few acoustic guitar led tracks with a bit of bedroom pop elements, ultimately causing the Million Dollars To Kill Me to fall a bit flat and bland when it comes to any new sounds.

Despite falling short on originality, Joyce Manor definitely live up to the hype of being emo’s answer to Guided By Voices and after four albums, they can still pump out some excellent punk tracks for those late night friend gatherings and walks in the cold.

In just twenty two minutes, Joyce Manor easily cram ten short but sweet tracks about money, doubt, confusion and even quietly tackle toxic masculinity on Big Lie.

Overall the album is always as fun as Joyce Manor can make it but perhaps for album six they could take a lot more risks but, regardless of that, Joyce Manor prove that getting older is nothing to fear but instead something to look forward to. They are truly pop punk at its finest.


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Released: 21 Sep 2018

Written By: Jonathan Strock