Album Review: Joyce Manor - 'A Million Dollars To Kill Me'


Joyce Manor have always been that one band in the indie/emo rock scene that are known for delivering short, punchy, angsty tracks, and after two years since their last release, they are back again with their fifth studio album filled with more short catchy songs that will make you want to sing along, dance along, but maybe not make you get as mad as their older releases would. ‘Million Dollars To Kill Me’ is the latest release from the band, which comes off the back of their single release under the same name. Whilst their last release ‘Cody’ was more centred around growing up, ‘Million Dollars To Kill Me’ is more about what happens next and comes as a great follow up to the album.

Starting off the album with ‘Fighting Kangaroo’, straight away we are greeted with the classic and unique vocals of Joyce Manor that many people have grown to love, but straight after this, the album is softened by ‘Think I’m Still In Love With You’ which delivers less anger, and more sorrow over past love that still exists. The album is very up and down and keeps things exciting with contrasting hints of angst, then sadness. ‘Big Lie’ delivers both of these things, starting off with punchy beats that contrast with lyrics of “Baby, I’ve been lonely my whole life” that uses more subdued vocals, leading into more typical angsty vocals during the chorus, and bringing it back again during the end verse as “Until we’re rushed away, child” is repeated right until the end of the song. This slowly leads nicely into ‘I’m Not The One’ which might be one of the most laid back songs of the album and takes almost an acoustic turn which is something we don’t often hear from Joyce Manor. This just further shows their diversity as a band and show how much they have grown since the release of ‘Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired’. 

The band have definitely taken more of an indie turn with this album compared to their earlier releases, whilst still giving us hints of their old school punk sound in a more matured form throughout the album. ‘Million Dollars To Kill Me’ is one of those songs that hits us with their more classic punk tones, and most certainly worked best as a single release to get the hype started around the album as it still has indie-vibes within it that feature across the entire album. 

Lyrically, the album seems to focus a lot on love and girls, which may be the only let down for the album as it’s something we have all heard before by pretty much every band within the pop punk scene which they managed to find themselves a part of with their self-titled release. This being said, the band still manage to deliver the lyrics in such a way that sets them apart from every other band singing about past and current love. ‘Friends We Met Online’ takes the typical lyrics to a new level with super catchy melodies and instrumentals and lyrics that focus more on modern day ways of meeting people which is something that doesn’t seem to be touched on in music quite as much. Whilst a simple track, it’ll be sure to get people singing along at future shows the band play, including their upcoming tour with Basement here in the UK. It will be interesting to see how long-term fans of the band react to the release as the tempo seems to slow with each new release over the past decade as the band drift more into the indie realm and stray from their pop punk roots. 

Words by Hayley Fearnley