By New Found Glory
Right from the start, New Found Glory's sixth studio album is exactly what you'd expect from the Florida five-piece.
Album-opener 'Right Where We Left Off' is pop-punk with a snottier, punker swagger than we've recently come to expect from the genre. This is most evident in a chorus of pounding riffs that ricochet off rumbling drumbeats, and a fast and furious pre-chorus head rush that's guaranteed to give your adrenal glands a workout. So far, so typical New Found Glory, and they aren't about to stray from their comfort zone, as 'Right Where We Left Off' signs off with shouty gang vocals that'll get every fist pumping in the air when this gets a live airing.
Second track 'Don't Let Her Pull You Down' is another track that seems to have been written for the live arena.
This song's one-two punch may sound repetitive on record, but it's bound to get rooms full of people headbanging when New Found Glory hit the road in support of this album. Similarly, the mass shout-along of "don't let her pull you down!" may not be the most original pop-punk chorus ever penned, but it'll get live audiences shouting along, guaranteed.
'Listen To Your Friends' is a blast of sunny pop-punk, with one-hundred-mile-an-hour riffs and bouncing drumbeats making for an invigorating listen.
This song is shamelessly good fun, with a chorus that has some serious sing-along appeal. An album highlight, and a must-hear for anyone who likes their pop-punk fast, fun and furious.
With '47,' vocalist Jordan Pundik provides poppy vocals that squeaky-clean pop-punkers Cute Is What We Aim For would be proud of. Musically, the pounding guitars, and choruses of helter-skelter riffs and spring-heeled drumbeats, feels like more of the same. Four songs into 'Not Without A Fight' and the comfortable, tried-and-tested nature of this album is already beginning to show.
'Such A Mess,' and 'This Isn't You' suffer the same fate, as the machine-gun drumming, slick guitar-slides and big, grinding riffs may be technically impressive, but then so is the rest of this album. Without any variety it all begins to blur into one, and by the end of this album the chances are you'll be suffering from serious musical fatigue.
'Truck Stop Blues' takes things down a notch, as some of this album's heaviest riffs steadily pummel the listener into submission. Overlaid with squealy chords, these choruses feel like a burst of inspiration for New Found Glory. However, all too soon a guitar-slide heralds a return to those galloping drums and technically-very-impressive, but-actually-getting-pretty-tedious-now, punk riffs.
'Tangled Up' is boosted above the level of much of this album thanks to an ingenious, mildly distorted central riff and a chorus of no-brainer lyrics that provide good, dumb thrills aplenty. The whole song is edged in buzzy riffs that combat some of the studio gloss, and give 'Tangled Up' a rawer, fresher sound. A definite album highlight.
The riff-heavy stomp of 'I'll Never Love Again' marks another high point for 'Not Without A Fight.' New Found Glory temper this heaviness with a springy chord that puts the pop bounce back into this swaggering, snot-nosed punk stomp.
'Reasons' sees New Found Glory edge a little out of their comfort zone, with flourishes of acoustic guitar and a more urgent vocal performance from Jordan, which gives 'Reasons' a ballad-esque tilt. 'Reasons' isn't earth-shattering, but this whole album sounds so similar, to both itself and previous New Found Glory albums (in particular 'Nothing Gold Can Say'), that anything even slightly different, is wholly welcome, and this is just that: slightly different.
'Heartless At Best' takes the more genuine-sounding, emotional vocals of 'Reasons' and puts them together with epic-tinged riffs. Added to this are verses of subtle acoustic guitar, combined with rumbling, vaguely tribal drumbeats. 'Heartless At Best' is New Found Glory at their most experimental. The big vocals and even bigger riffs, make for a stirring quasi-ballad that might just tweak at the heartstrings.
New Found Glory pull out all the stops with their album-closer, as they churn through the lightening-paced 'Don't Let This Be The End.' Bouncing drumbeats and chugging guitars drive this song along at a furious pace, whilst a smattering of springy chords and slickly cool guitar-slides keep proceedings fun. Although the lyrically insipid chorus of "it's starting to break up/it's starting to break up" is repeated approximately three hundred times during the course of the song, 'Don't Let This Be The End' is 'Not Without A Fight' at its best: fast, fun, with some passion behind it.
'Not Without A Fight' is by no means a bad album. If this was a debut album from an up-and-coming pop-punk outfit, it'd be something to get excited about. The problem is, New Found Glory have been pedalling this sort of music for ten years, and almost everything on this album sounds eerily similar to their debut full-length. In fact, if you've ever heard a New Found Glory record, then you already have a good idea what 'Not Without A Fight' sounds like. Existing fans will no doubt lap it up, but with this album New Found Glory have struck rigidly to their own formula, and there's something a little disappointing about that.