New Found Glory

Flash back to the year 2004 for a bit. Several pop-punk, emo and hardcore bands have been signed to major label deals, CDs are still selling in waves, and it’s an ultra-exciting time for this scene of music. New Found Glory came in riding a major high after their most successful record, Sticks and Stones, blanketed the pop-punk scene with great singles like “My Friends Over You” and “Head On Collision” getting some airplay on MTV’s popular Total Request Live (TRL). Enter Catalyst. The record was set up for success as well with a bulletproof lead single of “All Downhill From Here” that wasn’t going to do anything to dissuade longtime fans of NFG from liking the new material. Catalyst had a harder edge to it, starting with the hardcore-esque gang vocals of “Intro” that bled into the lead single, while the guitars just felt heavier in general throughout the LP. While this album had a mix of styles and sounds that were brought forth, and musically it’s a bit all over the place, it’s hard to not admit that this is still one of the band’s strongest albums to date.

Other early standouts, like “This Disaster,” are punchy, with Chad Gilbert’s guitars matching the punishing percussion from Cyrus Bolooki in masterful fashion. As Jordan Pundik ponders, “All my life I’ve been looking for the answers / To the questions she never asked and / We never planned on this disaster / When will I let it go?” it’s hard to not relate to the conflict in the lyrics. The speedy punk rock of “Truth Of My Youth” remains a staple of New Found Glory’s sets to this day, and allows for the band to get the crowd moving to the tones they set forth.

Catalyst featured some interesting single choices, like the ballad of “I Don’t Wanna Know” that leaned more into the adult pop that the band perfected on Coming Home, while they enlisted James Dewees for some keyboards on “Failure’s Not Flattering.” The latter seemed to accelerate the band’s sound, while some found the ballad falling a bit flat in the hard-nosed approach of the album as a whole. Dewees would later tour with New Found Glory for a bit to lend keys/synths to the band’s trademark pop-punk sound.

Middle album cuts like “Your Biggest Mistake” are fairly simplistic in their construction, but they continued to blend hardcore gang vocals with the pop-punk sound to round out NFG’s repertoire. The spiraling guitar riff from Gilbert on “Doubt Full” allowed for bassist Ian Grushka to pulsate alongside his bandmates with precise riffs, while Pundik sings on the chorus, “When it feels like I’ve already been there / Sounds like I’m preaching the choir / If it looks like it won’t work out / I’m the one, the one full of doubt.” While other tracks like “Over the Head, Below the Knees” are a bit somber in their delivery and a mid-tempo song of “Ending In Tragedy” could’ve benefited from better sequencing in the tracklisting, or even been better off as a B-side.

Things take a turn for the better on “At Least I’m Known For Something,” that continues to take a heavier stab at New Found Glory’s pop-punk sound that is truly showcased well on their Kill It Live recording. “No News Is Good News” is another example of when the style that the band were going for works best, while “I’d Kill To Fall Asleep” largely plays out like late-album filler. The closing ballad of “Who Am I” features up-tempo verses, while the chorus takes a more introspective turn as Pundik wonders, “So who am I? / Don’t say it’ll stay this way forever.”

The other B-sides that were recently revisited on the first vinyl pressing of Catalyst like “Whiskey Rose,” “Radio Adelaide,” and “Constant Static” would’ve worked better in the sequencing of the main album had they replaced some of the unnecessary mid-tempo cuts towards the back half of the album. But hey, as strong as these B-sides are, it’s only a further testament to showing that New Found Glory brought their A-game to the studio and writing sessions that became Catalyst.