New Found Glory rarely ever changes things up. It has a simple formula of crafting songs that melds together the sugary sensation of pop tracks with the fast-paced, hardcore elements of punk songs.
When looking at its discography, one doesn’t see evolution, but consistency. There is, however, one glaring inconsistency in its catalogue: 2006’s Coming Home. It was a record in which the band left its usual formula behind and crafted something truly ingenious and unexpected: a somber, honest, polished, pop-alternative record.
Many fans were taken aback, but the record, which now often gets overlooked in the band’s discography, is truly its best and 2009’s Not Without a Fight could not compete with it.
Essentially, New Found Glory decided to leave behind this evolution and return to its roots, which was disappointing considering the critical success it had in stepping out of its comfort zone on Coming Home. This regression on Not Without a Fight weighed down the record, and it proved to be nowhere near as memorable as its predecessor or any of New Found Glory’s earlier records.
Now, the band returns with Radiosurgery, a record that is neither a step forward nor backward. It is just a sideways step in the direction the band has always seemed to take (excluding Coming Home).
At first, it sounds like the record will be a condemnation of popular music as it exists today, a sentiment echoed in the artwork’s declaration that “Pop Punk’s not dead!”
This sentiment persists throughout Radiosurgery, and although the record is not overwhelmingly powerful, it is catchy and fun. It is what New Found Glory has always epitomized. It will not necessarily win over new fans, but it will appeal to fans who have been around since the band’s inception.
The relatively mellow title track features riffs reminiscent of Green Day and The Ramones and smooth, memorable melodies as vocalist Jordan Pundik sings, I can’t get your face out of my head / It makes my brain hurt / I need radiosurgery.
These simple, somewhat corny lyrics illustrate the theme of the entire record. As explained in the album’s liner notes, radiosurgery is a recently developed medical procedure used to “target unwanted memories in the brain” and has been shown to be “beneficial in the treatment of past regrets and lost love.”
This theme runs through every single song on Radiosurgery, as many of them dwell on failed relationships. It sounds depressing, but the upbeat music backdrop provided by Chad Gilbert (guitar/background vocals), Steve Klein (guitar), Ian Gruska (bass) and Cyrus Bolooki (drums) complements Pundik’s trademark nasal vocals to create a catchy, celebratory record in true New Found Glory fashion.
Songs like “Drill it in My Brain” and “I’m Not The One” are absolutely anthemic, and are sure to be live favorites. The sing-a-long choruses and fist-pumping instrumentation easily cement these tracks as surefire classics in the band’s catalogue, and single-handedly make the album worth buying.
Other songs like the bass-driven “Summer Fling, Don’t Mean a Thing” and “Trainwreck,” however, are utterly forgettable and lackluster, sounding more like never released b-sides from past material. The melodies and guitar parts all sound recycled and show unoriginality in the songwriting process. Tracks like these prove the band should consider substituting this filler material with more experimental material — like the songs on Coming Home.
The simple lyrics are quite effective in delineating feelings of frustration and resignation regarding failed relationships. In the pleasingly melodic “Dumped,” Pundik sings, You were, you were the only one to break my heart / If I could just go back to the start / I’d tell myself I don’t need anyone.
Meanwhile, the fun, fast-paced “Memories and Battle Scars” shows the passion of attraction and affection with lines that include I want to kiss you so hard that your lips bleed / And I want to hold you so tight that your ribs break. There is nothing mind-blowing about Pundik’s lyrics, but the words are meant to be simple and relatable because New Found Glory live shows are all about crowd participation and sing-a-longs.
New Found Glory has deservedly become one of the definitive faces of the pop-punk music genre and Radiosurgery, despite its flaws, is a further reinforcement of this. It feels much like a summer record, a release that begs to be blasted out of car stereos with the windows down and a group of friends dancing and screaming the words.
It generates good vibes and leaves listeners smiling. In essence, it does just what a pop-punk record should do. It proves that pop-punk is, in fact, alive and well.
Listeners can see it for themselves when New Found Glory plays at the House of Blues in Hollywood, Calif., on Friday.