It’s been a while since I have updated Tucson (there’s stuff in the pipeline now though, so fear not), but I’m going to return with a follow-up to the first A-G-P with a second entry, this time covering American rock-punk quintet New Found Glory. Since their formation in 1997, NFG have been credited with pioneering the pop-punk-rock sound which has produced so many bands over the last decade. Still going strong, the five-piece have released 6 albums to date, and their longevity really sets them apart from the standard one-or-two album groups this genre usually creates. No, NFG are here for the long haul and that, for me at least, is a good thing.
My adolescent obsession with the band was begun when I heard 2nd album New Found Glory on a friend’s stereo. I immediately loved their sound but had to wait a year before I could claim a copy of the CD (back when people bought such things) for my own. By then, the group had released a follow-up called Sticks and Stones, so I grabbed that too. Then, on my 16th birthday I received a copy of 4th album Catalyst, which is still to date the last of their output I own. However, this is more due to my own shifting musical tastes rather than a distaste for NFG themselves: I still love ’em, but would rather funnel my cash elsewhere. No offense lads.
This three-album collection was the absolute centre of my musical world for about 4 or 5 years, and I still like to blast out some NFG pop-punk on occasion. Their sound is infectiously upbeat and the band themselves are an odd, likeable bunch, from whiny-but-good lead singer Jordan Pundik to tubby guitarist Ian Grushka to primate-proportioned drummer Cyrus Bolooki. Aside from having some pretty badass names, NFG produced probably the best music of their genre for a 5 year period, and the three albums I proudly own are a testament to how much better they are than a dozen Good Charlottes or McFlys.
The first thing most people notice is Pundik’s voice. Some people hate it; he is very whiny and American-sounding, so if that’s not your particular brand of vodka, you might well dislike New Found Glory. However, I think it lends itself well to the band’s style, and is no more aggravating than Tom DeLonge’s moans at Blink-182’s gigs (I like Blink too, so don’t get on my back!). The band produce an incredibly energized sound full of pounding drum beats and chugging chords, much like many of their pop-punk brethren, but produce songs which knock most other bands to the deck.
Tracks like ‘Hit or Miss’ and ‘Dressed to Kill’ from New Found Glory are to the pop-punk formula, sure, but they have a certain charm to them and feature surprisingly good lyrics for a band whose main audience is angsty teens: “You’re always dressed to kill/And you feel like you owe it to the world/But you owe it to yourself”. Sure, it’s not exactly Bob Dylan, but they’re much more memorable than most of the dross associated with the genre. From NFG to Sticks and Stones the band don’t change a bunch, simply refining their style and adding a few tweaks here and there.
From SaS to Catalyst, though, there is a marked change which works brilliantly. Catalyst features, in short, a lotta synths and a more compact sound which manages to keep the band’s energy at incomparably high levels whilst also enabling the slower tracks, usually their downfall, to be much better than normal – see ‘Your Biggest Mistake’ or ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’.
Whilst I personally feel that all the albums deliver, if I could recommend just one it would be the self-titled New Found Glory. It’s the record that defined about 2 years of my life and showcases the sound that would propel NFG to stardom Stateside and should’ve done more for them here. A band who’ve been overlooked in favour of Blink-182 and Green Day, I would argue that NFG aren’t simply a good pop-punk band, they’re the best to yet exist. Suck it Billie Joe Armstrong.
Sickest tracks: ‘Dressed to Kill’, ‘Second to Last’, ‘Hit or Miss’ from New Found Glory, ‘Understatement’, ‘My Friend’s Over You’ from Sticks and Stones, ‘All Downhill From Here’, ‘Doubt Full’ from Catalyst.
If you like this, you’ll also like: Blink-182 – Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, Sum 41 – All Killer No Filler, The Academy Is… – Almost Here.