CD Review of Not Without a Fight by New Found Glory
New Found Glory: Not Without a Fight
Recommended if you like
Blink-182, Set Your Goals,
Gorilla Biscuits
Label
Epitaph Records
New Found Glory:
Not Without a Fight

Reviewed by Carlos Ramirez

T
he "mature" album: it happens to even the best of punk bands. It’s a move that usually results in one of three different outcomes. If done right, the record inspires the kind of critical swooning usually reserved for indie-rock and heritage acts. When the album misses the mark artistically, the press has a field day telling us how bad the artist overstepped their abilities. The third, and definitely the most detrimental, outcome of a punk band trying to make their mature album is fan apathy. Based on just its energetic nature alone, pop-punk wasn’t made for the subtle nuances and introspective lyrics usually found on those kinds of statement records. Blink-182 did it on their self-titled collection and the results were mixed at best. We come to pop-punk for the massive vocal hooks, vibrant melodies and hard-charging rhythms, and anything that diverts from that end is not welcomed.

New Found Glory got all contemplative on us with their last album, Coming Home. From the production and songwriting standpoints, it was clear the Florida band wanted to shed most of its punk and hardcore impulses, which alienated the fanbase and left the critics underwhelmed. The album has actually aged extremely well, but at the time of its release, their artistic courage wasn’t making anyone happy but themselves.

New Found Glory

Late last year when New Found Glory hinted to the press that their next album was going to be in the spirit of their earlier, celebrated work, fans waited with bated breath. After all, how often have we heard that from a group after their last album was a commercial bomb, only to be let down? We’re thrilled to report that Not Without a Fight delivers exactly what NFG promised. Hinting at what’s ahead, the opening cut is called "Right Where We Left Off," and its overdriven guitar crunch and instantly memorable vocal hook reminds you what these guys do best. Jordan Pundik has always had a snotty, nasally tone to his vocals, but he’s dialed that down this time out, proving that all the years in and out of recording studios have taught him how to control his instrument better.

Guitarists Chad Gilbert and Steve Klein have the formula for this kind of stuff down pat. They wrap their metallic hardcore-informed riffs in a candy-coated sheen that falls in perfectly with Pundik’s catchy vocal lines. On the FM-ready "This Isn’t You," Gilbert and Klein even fuse in some ‘80s AOR-leaning guitar melodies, lending the song a pleasing nostalgic air. But for the majority of Not Without a Fight, tough edged pop-punk reigns supreme. Songs like "Listen to Your Friends" and "Such a Mess" are anthems tailor-made for the sweaty stages of the Warped Tour.

New Found Glory have created the kind of return-to-form album they needed to make. Not only have they revisited the winning style of their best material, they often top it. What more can you ask for?

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