It’s almost like this review doesn’t have to be written. A shiny, freshly made batch of 11 pop-punk songs recommended for people who love pop-punk songs.
Or, in other words, a new New Found Glory record. Recommended if you like: New Found Glory.
Perhaps the most consistent band in the history of a genre they helped make extremely popular, New Found Glory’s seventh studio full-length, Radiosurgery, is exactly what you think it is. It’s 11 (actually, 10) wonderful gems meant for playing: 1. With the windows down; 2. With the volume turned up; 3. During the summer. Predictable words about a predictable record.
If I sound like I’m criticizing Radiosurgery, I’m only doing it half-heartedly. Aside from the question mark of Coming Home, New Found Glory has very rarely tweaked its style since its 1999 debut, Nothing Gold Can Stay. And why would they ever change? Creeping up on the 12th anniversary of that first release, New Found Glory has already almost doubled the timeline of relevancy compared to many of their peers. They’re one of the most-loved band in the genre and 12 years is a lot longer than the number suggests. Fans have loved every NFG album and have come out in droves to seem them perform live. Radiosurgeryisn’t going to change that.
Incidentally, the record begins with its only flaw. It’s the reason I say there are 10 pop-punk gems on this album instead of 11. The title track and first single is the exact opposite of what past NFG opening tracks have been. Instead of a relentlessly pounding punch in the mouth to set the tone of the record, “Radiosurgery” features a chorus that is just a bit high on the sugar, and a riff that, while good enough, isn’t your typical Chad Gilbert/Steve Klein hardcore backdrop/catchy guitar line in the forefront. (see: “My Friends Over You’)
After getting past the first track, however, there’s a solid half-hour of beautiful new-school pop-punk jammers. “Drill It In My Brain” has the record’s first unforgettable chorus, and it’s followed by album standout “I’m Not the One.” Immediately, Jordan Pundik’s never-not-good nasally vocals will get old fans excited over a palm-muted guitar. Pundik’s cries of “She said that I’m not the one that she should bring home tonight / And I know that she’s not the one that I should bring home tonight” aren’t complex at all, but they’re extremely enjoyable to yell back. The song even features a distinct Sticks and Stones edge to it (specifically “Something I Call A Personality”), from the “Let’s go!” to the “Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it” later on.
Radiosurgery provides more of the usual lyrical content from Steve Klein: best friends and girl problems. Also as usual, it shines brightest when the guitars are at their best. “Ready, Aim, Fire!” has an uplifting riff, while “Summer Fling, Don’t Mean A Thing” follows a more bass-oriented sound, courtesy of Ian Grushka. Throughout the album, Gilbert and Klein combine for even more crunching, downward-aiming, dominating guitar riffs than ever. The production on Radiosurgery is as good as any past NFG album, an essential point for this band, since their style hardly varies. “Memories and Battle Scars” and closer “Map of Your Body” provide two memorable highlights near the end of the album, while “Caught In the Act” brings in a sweet guest spot from adored Best Coast leader Bethany Cosentino.
Before Radiosurgery came out, the band said it was going for a more Ramones-influenced, early ’90s pop-punk sound. I personally took that as a message that they were trying to do another record like their self-titled. While Radiosurgery doesn’t really fill that void, it does undoubtedly have earlier-’90s influences stirred in – just an example of a veteran band putting their heads down and churning out the exact product they wanted.
New Found Glory has too many good records to call this one their best, but that doesn’t really matter in the end. Comparing Radiosurgery to Sticks and Stones, New Found Glory or even Catalyst or Not Without A Fight is simply irrelevant. It’s better to concentrate on what’s in front of us: a hard-hitting, purely enjoyable album from South Florida’s proudest sons. A band that was a major force in shaping this genre is extending its dominance and today, as is evidenced by the looming Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour, is continuing a leadership role by bringing new opportunities to younger bands.