New Found Glory - Not Without a Fight
Record Label: Epitaph Records
Release Date: March 10, 2009
The sticker on the front of New Found Glory's latest release exclaims, "The undisputed heavyweight champions of pop-punk are back!” That is quite a statement, but after listening to the Florida quintet's sixth studio release, you might just start to believe it.
The band is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the release of their debut album Nothing Gold Can Stay (one of this reviewer's favourite ever albums) after emerging during the second wave of the pop-punk movement back in the late nineties. They are one of a few bands still active today and are like a fine wine, getting better with age.
Their last full-length offering (2006's Coming Home) marked a step in a new direction for the five piece. This saw a departure from their spiky and energetic pop-punk hybrid, and instead opting for a slowed down and more melodic approach. This drew praise from many critics as their most mature material to date.
So is Not Without a Fight further progression? Well, yes and no. It seems the band has regressed to progress. It appears to take all of their back catalogue's best bits - the energy of their earlier releases, the emotive melody of 2006's Coming Home, and the hardcore influenced 2008 EP, Tip of the Iceberg - to almost produce a greatest hits compilation, just with new material.
Mark Hoppus (Blink 182, Plus 44) has done a sterling job with production duties. While it certainly isn't as raw as their classic debut all those years ago, it is not over produced. Gang vocals, choppy and urgent guitars, driving bass lines, and tight drumming are the order of the day throughout the 36 minutes of playing time.
There is nothing new about the topics explored here, but it doesn't matter when the songs are of such quality, and while Steve Klein has never been the best lyricist, his writing has definitely improved over the years. He wore his heart on his sleeve for previous releases, and things are no different here.
"Tangled Up", "Reasons", and "Heartless At Best" wouldn't have felt out of place on their previous record Coming Home. These tracks are driven on melody and chord progression, qualities that made their 2006 effort so impressive. I personally felt it was important to keep some of the Coming Home vibe present on Not Without a Fight, and they certainly do with these efforts.
"I'll Never Love Again", "47", and "Such a Mess" include strong hardcore influences that come straight out of the rule book for last year’s Tip of the Iceberg EP. Each track includes chugging guitar breakdowns and big gang vocals. “Such a Mess” is a personal highlight with its hard and fast intro that is followed by anthemic cries of "I need to pull myself together and let it out!” The breakdown is also one of best the record has to offer. Another standout is "Truck Stop Blues"; this is fast and frantic with a brilliant chorus that will get stuck in your brain and remain there for hours. This is simply vintage NFG and with it clocking in at just 2:16, I'm sure this would please the fans of the Nothing Gold Can Stay and New Found Glory era.
It's hard to pick other highlights because this album is full of good tracks. I’m sure your “favourite song” will constantly change upon repeat listens. "Don't Let This Be The End" proves the perfect closer with urgent and catchy versus which precede a cracking chorus. Gang chants also make the outro memorable which will no doubt prove popular live.
When the final chords from Chad Gilbert's guitar fade on track 12, you will have heard an album that brings everything that's good about pop-punk (or indeed NFG’s back catalogue) to the table and deliverers it in impressive fashion. If you’re not a fan of this genre, this isn't likely to change your mind, but Not Without a Fight is somewhat refreshing in a scene that has become very stale of late.
Is this NFG’s best material to date? Well, that is something for the fans to debate. But I’m sure in time this will be right up there with other favourites.
Ultimately, New Found Glory isn’t a band who is going to change the world or start a musical revolution. But they remain, as ever, the same band with the same integrity they had in 1997. They continue to write great music that remains a staple of this genre, so may it continue.
this may be a bit much, but i think this review is perfect haha dead on with my feelings about pop punk, NGF, and the new album.
That's good we share the same views on this.
I really enjoyed this release when it leaked. I blasted it constantly and found lot's of stand out tracks. It's funny though, since it's been released officially and I've received my physical copy, I've fallen even more in love with this and now enjoy it as a whole rather than just certain stand outs
It's definatley a grower and for me that gives it much more lasting value.