New Found Glory – Radiosurgery (2011)

Posted: September 30, 2011 in Music

Pop-punk may not be officially dead, but it’s been in a comatose state and on life support for years. Not since circa 2004 has the scene been relevant – but honestly, it’s not really the fault of the bands. When pop-punk grew to the height of its popularity, every label saw the dollar signs associated with the success of acts like Good Charlotte, Blink-182, MxPx and Green Day. They rushed to sign every spikey-haired boy band they could find, and in turn, diluted the scene of any credibility. When the popularity subsided, so did the record contracts, leaving many a decent band with the career defining choice: Change your tune or go away.

Many bands called it quits, and for those that survived, very few were able to maintain their true pop-punk sound. The soundscape was changing and bands were forced to choose which direction they were heading. For Green Day, it was a more serious rock sound, for Good Charlotte, a more dance-floor groove, but one band tried to stay true through it all.

That band is Coral Springs, Florida’s New Found Glory, whom, as chairmans of the board of pop-punk, refused to budge through the merciless death of the scene. In fact, with a steady pace of albums, you would think the band were oblivious to the waning popularity, but they knew what was going on the whole time.

Guitarist Chad Smith recently had this to say to Alternative Press Magazine about the state of affairs: “For the next six years after the pop-punk gold rush, we kept making our records and touring just like we always had. Our fans kept showing up, too! Sure, the shows weren’t always as big, but that didn’t matter. In fact, now it meant even more, because the fans that came to see us really wanted to be there. [They didn’t come] to fit in or because some big promotion was telling them they had to go. They had a personal attachment to our songs and wanted to share the night with their peers and people that made them feel they belong.”

But even with drive and commitment to the scene, the band couldn’t single-handedly save it. In fact, the band’s last two albums – 2006’s Coming Home and 2009’s Not Without A Fight – showed a beaten-down version of the band that just couldn’t spark the fire the band once had. I was certain that the band was on borrowed time, and would probably drop off the face of the earth. After all, they were older, wiser, and had to understand that people had moved on to other sounds after ten years.

I’m not sure if it’s pride, masochism or lack of good sense that had the band returning to the studio this last April, but the result is their seventh full-length album titled Radiosurgery. When the record landed on my desk, I wasn’t even sure I would listen to it, but knowing my wife was a long-time fan, I figured I would give it a spin – for her sake. For MY sake, I’m glad I did.

Not because I’m a huge fan, nor that I’m praying for a revival of the scene – but simply due to the fact that this album has the band invigorated and returning to the energetic sound that you heard blaring through the speakers at every mall and teen dance ten years ago. It’s a rewind to the youthful exuberance that made the scene so fun to get into back in the day. It possesses the spark and light-heartedness that launched the Warped Tour and made punk something more spirited than The Ramones and Black Flag.

Now granted, most of the jocks that dug these guys during the Sticks and Stones-era now have 401ks and the pink-and-black striped sock wearing ‘punk’ chicks have transformed into moms and wives – but this album will be a nice reminder of some fun parties and wild concerts.

Ok, I know it’s only been about ten years since a ‘decent’ New Found Glory album, but so much has changed during that time that somehow this feels ‘fresh’ again. I don’t think NFG has the pull to gather up a whole new breed of fans, but this release should at least bring back plenty of their fans that gave up on the band over the last few albums. Who knows, maybe I’m wrong and the kids will eat this alive…

I’m not going to get into details here – it’s exactly what you would expect based on the above blabbering. It’s eleven tracks of pop-punk glory done by the band that was there from the beginning – and obviously plan on seeing it through until the very end. If you like the band, or remember the scene, nothing here is going to change your mind. Jordan Pundik is still a heartthrob, Chad Gilbert is still a great punk guitarist, guitarist Steve Klein still has lots of tattoos, drummer Cyrus Bolooki still looks like he’s 12, and bassist Ian Grushka is still a little chubby. To say the album itself is any better or worse than their earlier releases would be silly. Let’s just say it’s 30 minutes of new, fast, fun music from one of the better – if not the best – pop-punk bands in history.

The scene has been trying hard to make a comeback this year. Releases from Sum-41 (horrible), Blink-182 (decent, but not really pop-punk anymore), and Zebrahead (also recommended) have paved the way of sorts, but not until this release have I given pop-punk any chance whatsoever. With a little support from fans and radio, we just may – finally – see the resurrection of one of the more fun genres in music.

After all, how much longer does Lady GaGa have, anyway.

While you’re at it, buy the ‘Deluxe” version that adds four bonus tracks, including a nice cover of The Ramones’ Blitzkreig Bop.

7.5/10

Editor’s note: Read Chad Gilbert’s complete article at Alternative Press here

Tracklist:
01 – Radiosurgery
02 – Anthem For The Unwanted
03 – Drill It In My Brain
04 – I’m Not The One
05 – Ready, Aim, Fire!
06 – Dumped
07 – Summer Fling, Don’t Mean A Thing
08 – Caught In The Act (Featuring Bethany Cosentino)
09 – Memories And Battle Scars
10 – Trainwreck
11 – Map Of Your Body

Buy at Amazon

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