When New Found Glory broke into the mainstream in the early 2000s, it certainly wasn’t amongst a shortage of pop-punk bands. The post-Blink boom meant that for a few years, every bunch of spiky-haired kids in Dickies was getting picked up by a major and amassing radio and MTV coverage. But what always set New Found Glory apart from their Warped Tour ilk was their genuine connection to heavy music. A teenaged Chad Gilbert was the vocalist for metalcore legends Shai Hulud before he was New Found Glory’s guitarist, and where other pop-punk bands of the time were taking influence from the likes of Descendents and Screeching Weasel, NFG were drawing more from East Coast hardcore like Madball and Snapcase. They positioned NYHC guitar tones as the backdrop to sickly-sweet pop vocals, and mastered both elements better than any of their peers could.
This distinction set New Found Glory up for longevity that outlasted pop punk’s commercial day in the sun, and such longevity makes inevitable – and perhaps relies on – a change in course. So in 2006, while bands like Midtown and Fenix TX had dissolved around them, New Found Glory released their fifth album Coming Home. It swapped the crunchy riffs for mid-tempo soft rock more comparable to, say, Journey than to their heavy early influences. It was a smart move, with pop-punk by now commercially dead in the water as emo-pop took its place, and one that paid off too; it was likely better received critically than any of their records prior.
In 2006, New Found Glory took their biggest risk as a band by releasing Coming Home, an album that largely abandoned the band’s customary pop-punk/easycore stylings. Produced by Thon Panunzio, Coming Home introduced more straight-forward rock elements that included keys, pianos, and strings – not surprising considering Panunzio has worked with some of the biggest rock legends of all time (Ozzy, Bruce, Joan Jett, etc.). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the album fell flat commercially and was also the band’s last album to be released on a major label. But creatively and critically it was a success as Coming Home has been regarded as the band’s most daring effort of their career and let the pop-punk world know that New Found Glory would never make the same album twice. It also planted the seeds of what was to come ten years later.
This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on April 24th, 2017. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.
Wooooo, time for a little first listen blogging time. Been way too long since I’ve done one of these, and I’m really excited to do a live-blog-first-listen tonight for the new New Found Glory album. Before getting started, a few things:
- I think this is my favorite NFG album since, at least, Coming Home, and I think I actually will end up having it ranked pretty high in their discography within a few years. It is surprisingly fun, energetic, a fun spin on their well known style, and incredibly enjoyable. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I have, and I’ve been playing it … a lot over the past few weeks.
- NFG were at one point a band I called my “favorite” (I think I talked about this on a past podcast episode about favorite bands), I wanted to BE this band. Haha. They had the style, the look, and the sound that I wanted to emulate so badly. I kinda moved away from them over the years, but when I go back and play their albums now (at least the early ones), they are so caked in nostalgia for me I can’t help but love them.
- I haven’t really liked their last few albums that much to be honest. They’ve been fine, but they felt so predictable to me that I never found myself coming back to them at all. I’d listen for a week or so, and then if I ever wanted an NFG fix, I’d go back to the ST and S&S instead. I really do think this is the first album from them in a while that will shake up that trend for me.
- I love the production on this one. I think the band mixing it up with new ears and a new voice in the studio was exactly what they needed. I think Sprinkle knocked this out of the park.
- I’ve talked on past podcasts about bands getting in a rut, and how I wish more would try new things that work within their sound … this album is exactly what I wanted to see from this band … it really is exactly that.
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