There is just nothing better than early 2000s pop punk. Sure, I’m biased having grown up during this time, but the success of bands in this genre speaks for themselves. Blink-182, Sum 41, Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard, The Starting Line, Good Charlotte, and New Found Glory, were all over MTV and their albums were flying off the shelves of Sam Goody and FYE stores. New Found Glory helped push this pop punk boom to new heights when they released their self-titled album, New Found Glory in 2000.
After making waves with their debut album, Nothing Gold Can Stay, New Found Glory signed with Drive-Thru Records. This move would forever change both the band and the record label. On their first LP for Drive-Thru, New Found Glory would successfully blend their love of pop music, punk and hardcore into a record that was raw, yet showed signs they stumbled onto something special.
New Found Glory was the perfect soundtrack for anyone coming of age in their teens (as is hinted at with the album cover). One second you’re head over heels for someone and the next, you can’t stand them. All the while, you’re learning how to deal with these different emotions. You take this idea, toss in some infectious hooks and choruses that burrow their way into your brain and the result is this album.
What still impresses me about New Found Glory is just how good the first six tracks are. It’s an unskippable Side A of the record that is loaded with some true classics in the New Found Glory catalog. The record begins with a blast of energy with the quick drumming of Cyrus Bolooki and call and response guitar playing on ”Better Off Dead.” The tempo and catchiness of this song sets the table for what’s to come on the rest of the album.
“Dressed to Kill” remains a staple of the NFG catalog. Lead singer Jordan Pundik sings about missing an ex and the way he delivers each line nails the feeling you have when a relationship ends before you want it to. The struggles to sleep, friends telling you to cheer up and move on, this song has all of it. “Sincerely Me” still remains my favorite Ian Grushka performance and I’ll always be a fan of how Bolooki’s drumming compliments the bass riff.
“Hit or Miss” is in the conversation for the best New Found Glory track. Not only is it a great song, but it was the band’s first hit and was the one that put them on the map. Yes, it was originally released on Nothing Gold Can Stay, but it was this reworked version that helped launch their career. The song also established all the key ingredients that make up a great NFG song: choruses you can’t help but sing along to, memorable guitar riffs and a well-timed bridge breakdown. The band has returned to this formula several times, but it’s this song that’s the OG. “Second to Last” follows a similar song structure to “Hit or Miss” only the song is heavier and it never took off the way the previous track. It’s still a great NFG B-side though.
Speaking of B-sides, the second half of the album has some really solid deep cuts. You have the ballad of the album in “Eyesore”, the adrenaline-pumped “Sucker,” and “Boy Crazy.” “Boy Crazy” is a song that is still likely to be found on breakup playlists. It’s a track that oozes immaturity, but when you’re young and heartbroken, you could wrongly believe that all girls are “crazy” or “stupid.” I have no doubts that there is someone out there who used lyrics from the chorus in their AOL away message following a breakup back in the day. There’s also “All About Her,” which opens with a great riff from guitarist Chad Gilbert and sticks to some of the themes of “Boy Crazy,” except this song finds the guy trying to get the girl back.
All of this builds up to the closer, “Ballad for the Lost Romantics,” a track for “fools who have no meaning” and one where Pundik sings about drinking the night away with friends and not worrying about what tomorrow will bring. Again, this is an album perfect for your teenage years, or a “truth of your youth” to put it in NFG terms.
I’m now in early 30s territory and obviously this record is not as relatable as it once was for me. Still, it’s a nice glass of nostalgia and serves as a reminder for how important this band was to me. New Found Glory’s music has picked me up at times of heartbreak and also played a big part in memorable nights with friends. They’re one of the few bands that’s able to make music that’s both fun, yet also wear their hearts on their sleeve. NFG was able to successfully channel this for the first time on Self-Titled.
New Found Glory might not be the greatest New Found Glory album, but there’s no doubt that it’s the most important. While 1999 saw Blink-182 burst onto the mainstream thanks to the success of Enema of the State and Saves the Day slowly making a name for themselves with Through Being Cool, the release of New Found Glory in 2000 belongs in the conversation of influential pop punk albums along with these. New Found Glory not only set the stage for the sound of pop punk during this period, but they helped start the pop-punk/emo explosion on Drive-Thru Records. After 20 years, this album remains a hit and is far from a miss.