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New Found Glory's 'Not Without a Fight' tries to keep pop-punk alive

BY DAVID RIVA
Daily Arts Writer
Published March 3, 2009

New Found Glory
Not Without A Fight
Epitaph

3 out of 5 stars

Remember when pop-punk ruled the world? Bands like Good Charlotte, Simple Plan and Sum 41 challenged the conventional boy-band mold by adding guitars and scissor kicks to their on-stage repertoires. As a result, they consistently climbed to the top of the “TRL” charts, made countless girls scream and placed the Warped Tour high atop many teenagers’ summer to-do lists.

Then something predictable happened: The novelty of three-minute songs with three-chord guitar progressions wore off. By 2004, spiky hair and nasally vocals were a thing of the past.

But New Found Glory didn’t seem to notice. The band successfully defied the odds and remained a relevant relic in a fading scene. Tireless work ethic and relentless touring have earned the band a cult following and made it one of pop-punk’s elite acts.

On Not Without a Fight, NFG continues to spread its infectious sound with fist-pumping sing-alongs about girls, broken hearts and failed relationships. The album never deviates too far from this overused and often stale subject matter or the traditional verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus formula. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pop-punk has never been an overly progressive genre, favoring a consistent, fan-friendly sound over musical innovation.

The classic NFG sound is alive and well on “Don’t Let Her Pull You Down.” The song’s chugging guitar and continuous repetition of the title are dangerously similar to “My Friends Over You,” the band’s most recognizable single. Still, the unbearably memorable tune is an earworm worth letting in.

The album hits an early low point on the laughable “47,” with its fragmented melody and embarrassing refrain of “I called you 46 times / And you answered on the 47th.” The awkward lyrics and disjointed rhythm make “47” Fight’s least worthy offering.

The band hits the road with overzealous guitars and double-kick drums on “Truck Stop Blues.” The song nearly spins out of control until a toe-tapping chorus grooves its way into a reflection on the way “highways and telephone lines” are the only things connecting touring rock stars with their loved ones. This simplistic but lasting metaphor is certainly nothing new from a road-worn band, but lead singer Jordan Pundik’s sincere croon deserves an empathetic response.

“I’ll Never Love Again” showcases guitarist Chad Gilbert’s shredding skills, which complement Pundik’s devastating lament on the prospect of no longer being able to partake in relationships. “Reasons,” a contrast to its predecessor, follows by opening with an easy acoustic line that fades into the background as a confrontational Pundik informs, “You can cut off my tongue / I’m speechless / and I’m wasting away / to nothing at your feet.”

Not Without a Fight solidifies NFG’s position on top of the pop-punk throne. The guitar-driven tunes have an angst and energy that were hardly perceptible on its predecessor, the more pretentious, piano-plagued Coming Home. Reverting back to the sound heard on Sticks and Stones, NFG’s most commercially successful effort, has worked in the band’s favor. The members of NFG are not musical geniuses, but their emotive songs continue to serve the purpose of entertaining and sharing common feelings with a loyal fan base.

It’s no secret that pop punk’s glory days have long since passed. But NFG refuses to be another casualty of a vanishing genre. New Found Glory shows no sign of slowing down now — at least not without a fight.


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