New Found Glory

New Found Glory - Resurrection

I can’t say Resurrection is inappropriately titled. New Found Glory’s eighth studio LP is, ugh, a ~*return to form*~ in just about every way. This always happens when the South Florida now-quartet faces some sort of adversity — they regress toward the mean. Coming Home was creative and about as daring as New Found Glory has ever gotten but it didn’t work out the way it was supposed to, so they wrote Not Without A Fight, the most polar opposite of Coming Home possible while still remaining in the very specifically defined realm of pop-punk inhabited by New Found Glory music. Now, guitarist and lyricist Steve Klein gets kicked out of the band and we get Resurrection, which is nothing more than a confirmation that yes, in fact, New Found Glory is still a band, they still exist, and yes, in fact, they can still write New Found Glory songs. Great!

Not so great is the fact that new-school pop-punk’s forefathers have regressed so far toward their own mean that they’ve essentially parodied themselves. Resurrection is significantly more enjoyable for me when I pretend it’s a band of people I don’t know jokingly writing songs pretending to be New Found Glory. This is now a band whose career is driven almost entirely by nostalgia; they draw crowds consisting of either young pop-punk fans who listen to them because they feel like they’re supposed to, or slightly older people who want to hear the hits and don’t care much for new material. That’s perfectly fine: Taking Back Sunday is currently romping across that same exact career arc, but while TBS is taking it upon themselves to change their sound, New Found Glory is retreating for whatever comes easiest. The songs on Resurrection have already been written by this band dozens of times before.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t any diehard New Found Glory fans who still cherish this band’s new output. Of course there are. This is a band that has shaped an endless amount of young adults, and there are fans who will stick by every single New Found Glory record that comes out. That’s an awesome thing and it’s a testament to New Found Glory’s remarkably consistent relevance and strong songwriting chops. Those people will adore Resurrection because, like I wrote when reviewing 2011’s Radiosurgery, it’s a New Found Glory record, recommended for fans of……New Found Glory.

That doesn’t mean Resurrection is good, though. It’s appealing to current fans of the band because it takes the chunky riffs found on Not Without A Fight and sticks them in a blender with the poppy hooks found on Radiosurgery, sans the semi-interesting Ramones and Green Day influences we got on that record. So, in other words, Resurrection is basically Sticks and Stones again but a decaffeinated, unexciting version. 

Why isn’t it any good? For starters, it sounds really bad. It’s under-produced on essentially all aspects of the musicianship, while Jordan Pundik’s hyper-nasally vocals are mixed poorly and too sugar-coated. Hitting the studio with Paul Miner turns out to be a misstep of epic proportions, because singles like “Selfless” and “Ready & Willing” (which do exemplify fun, good NFG songwriting — which is to say, they’re very good pop-punk singles) could have really benefitted from Neal Avron’s fairy dust, while the rest of this batch of 43 uninspired minutes could have used any sort of spark. Pre-production should have nixed boring tunes like “One More Round” and “Vicious Love,” a phenomenal one-two punch in the sense that those particular six-and-a-half minutes make me want to turn off my speakers with phenomenal speed.

Nearly every song on Resurrection feels too long, which isn’t a good trait for an album that consists of precisely zero songs that reach the four-minute mark. When you put them all together, in a row, the way this album does, the length of the record is unbearable. It’s tough to get through it, mainly because the bearable songs are too few and far between. The opening “Selfless” is fine vintage New Found Glory, and leadoff single “Ready and Willing” is catchy as hell, and one of the best choruses New Found Glory has ever written, despite its wholly unnecessary faux-breakdown intro and outro. It’s got the high-soaring chorus to be a radio hit, but it’s hindered by those two guitar-heavy portions that could have been used anywhere else on the album — they should have just let it be a pop song. “Stories Of A Different Kind” is a white-knuckle blast of punk-rock where Pundik bashes new bands who are in it for the money while he’s going to apparently be full of debt, but have the time of his life with no regrets. The lyrical content on this song is terribly misguided (even though it’s one of the better songs on the album musically), and the rest of the album isn’t much to write home about in terms of its content — that being said, I’ll come back to “Stories” before much of the other material here, even though Chad Gilbert still insists upon yelling in the background at random times,1 adding nothing of particular substance. “Angel” is the only change of pace on Resurrection, and it’s an enjoyable one — maybe if more tunes like this were sprinkled in, the record would have better pacing and more overall appeal.

The worst part about this album is that it feels like New Found Glory writing a New Found Glory record for the sake of writing a New Found Glory record. At no point do I get any sort of impression of passion during the album’s runtime. It’s somewhat difficult to write this about a band that has produced several albums that I hold dear to my heart, but New Found Glory has completely lost any sort of creative spark. Each song, with a few very solid exceptions, is “meh” on its own merit and “very meh” in the course of the album. 

This band has given me so much in the past that I can’t ask for much more from them — they’re artists and they’ll write whatever they want to write, which I respect, of course — but I don’t feel any qualms about saying that, if they continue to go down this route of copying themselves, they’ll never write an album that matches up to their past selves. The songs on Resurrection are harmless if you throw them on shuffle with the rest of New Found Glory’s discography, but only because there’s more than enough good to outweigh the bad here. As a singular unit, Resurrection calls for little in terms of repeat listens; in fact, listening to it only makes me want to play a better version of what’s in my earbuds. Give me a 1,000th listen of the self-titled before you give me my 20th listen of Resurrection. And it’s not like I’m living in the past, it’s not like I just want “old” New Found Glory to come back again — “old” New Found Glory is here, right now, the same New Found Glory as ever, with 13 brand-new songs, and it’s bad.

In 2011, New Found Glory went out on the Pop Punk’s Not Dead tour, bringing along with them a stacked bill: Set Your Goals, The Wonder Years, Man Overboard and This Time Next Year all supported the U.S. dates. The Story So Far and State Champs were amongst the international supporting acts. This was New Found Glory doing what New Found Glory has always done so damn well: Leading the charge for a new era of pop-punk. Never has New Found Glory not been a leader in this genre, until now. They’ve watered themselves down to the point of suppressing their own growth and they’ve been surpassed in relevance and talent by, at the very least, two of the bands that supported them three years ago in The Story So Far and The Wonder Years. Plenty of acts, including those two and groups like Fireworks, used New Found Glory as a reference point to kick-start their own careers, but in a mere half-decade managed to find their own niche, their own sound, being creative and inspiring a new wave of garage bands. 

During the time since that tour, New Found Glory has sunk as low as a music video that parodies (makes fun of? pokes fun at?) of 5 Seconds Of Summer and One Direction. Like, what? I understand that the music video is supposed to be a fun thing, but to an extent it illustrates the point that no longer is New Found Glory here to lead any sort of charge. New Found Glory once helped new bands climb to relevance by making pop-punk a cool and exciting place to be by making it easier to discover and love new acts; today, a new NFG album benefits from the continued popularity of a genre that’s only still popular because of better songwriting from those younger bands. It’s a simultaneously exciting and sad state of affairs: While the genre is thriving in no small part because of New Found Glory’s persistence on never letting it die, New Found Glory themselves are now an afterthought in their own scene.

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  1. Update: that’s not Gibert screaming, but the rest of this sentence still stands.