Joyce Manor's "Million Dollars to Kill Me" on Epitaph Records..

Joyce Manor's "Million Dollars to Kill Me" on Epitaph Records.. Credit: Epitaph Records


Million Dollars to Kill Me

BOTTOM LINE The SoCal pop-punkers grow into catchy rock craftsmen

Joyce Manor’s new album “Million Dollars to Kill Me” (Epitaph) is a well-crafted collection of cool indie-rock styles from the past three decades held together by Barry Johnson’s earnest vocals and Chase Knobbe’s seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of guitar riffs.

The catchy first single “Think I’m Still in Love With You” has a Weezer vibe. The title track is reminiscent of The Replacements, with its chugging guitar lines and clever, wistful lyrics, while the spiky pop-punk of “Friends We Met Online,” sounds more like the band’s earlier work, though they do throw in a bit that sounds like The Housemartins.

There are little surprises like that throughout “Million Dollars to Kill Me,” as Joyce Manor plays around with pop-punk structures and various influences.

“Fighting Kangaroo” calls to mind the heavy guitars of Jawbreaker. “Up the Punks” is stream-of-consciousness imagery welded to pointy guitarwork, while “Gone Tomorrow” feels like the return of Teenage Fanclub.

Nearly all the sound experiments work for Joyce Manor resulting in an enjoyable, unexpected thrill ride. And since none of the songs are longer than three minutes, they leave you wanting more.

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