Sound — 9
New Found Glory are back to their best with Not Without A Fight. Album number six sees the long time pop punk kings retain the torch. In an age filled with formulaic, wannabe emo bands focused more on the haircut of the week rather than creating tunes that rock the copper wires off your speakers, the Floridian quintet, now 12 years into their existence, have created a rockin' pop punk album that shows just why they stand so tall above the crowd of uneventful scenesters that is the tragedy of the music scene today. Whereas their last full length, released in 2006 titled Coming Home, saw the band move in a more mature, polished, and refined direction, NWAF sounds almost as if the band have caught the Peter-Pan effect: realising that growing up is no fun. However, this is not to say that the band haven't learnt anything from their previous offering. On the contrary, NWAF sees NFG take one step backwards, and two steps forwards. What I mean by this is that if NFG's earlier releases such as Sticks and Stones met their slightly more hardcore (and I use this term in the loosest of ways) album Catalyst and their more gracious album Coming Home, and if somehow these three albums managed to have an orgy, the offspring of that 'event' would be NWAF. Songs such as lead single Listen To Your Friends is a great show of how NFG have somehow managed to frankenstein together a track that sounds cultivated yet raw. The chorus with it's distorted guitars and thundering bass and drumming is a great example of NFG at their best. Another track that somewhat pays homage to the hardcore scene is 47, with it's stop-start chugging guitars played over a solid drum pattern complete with gang vocals in the chorus, makes it one of the stand out songs of the album. Another future fan-favourite-in-the-making is the track I'll Never Love Again. With a fast, melodious signature NFG guitar intro, the track has everything you'd expect from a NFG track plus more. Raw, palm muted, hardcore-esque guitar lines. Check. Strong, head-banging drums. Check. Vocal melodies catchier than the flu. Check. Gang vocals. Check.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are, as you would expect from pop punk bands, not groundbreaking. However Steve Klein (guitarist and lead lyricist) does cover some interesting topics on some occasions rather than the usual girl problems. For example, Truck Stop Blues is about having to leave love, family, friendships, and home behind whilst on the road. Vocalist Jordan Pundik sings in the illegally catchy chorus: I'll never let this go; I'm in a different state every night; We're kept together by highways and telephone lines. Opening track Right Where We Left Off is a somewhat cheeky shout out to the music scene at the moment, and most likely a retort at their former record label, whom they recently left due to musical differences and views. Hence this album was produced and recorded by Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 fame at his own home studio. With this song, Pundik reassuringly sings in the verse: You can't get rid of me that easily; Not without a fight; Your cool and collective approach is appealing; Yeah you've got it down just right. This leads onto the chorus in which the lyrics No I don't want to make this an issue; I just want to pick back up right where we left off so we don't get caught up again are sung with conviction and determination. With this album, Pundik has vocally moved another step up the ladder. Whereas with Coming Home his voice sounded less nasally yet a little bit forced, with NWAF his voice has blossomed and matured, making it seem stronger and convincing.
Overall Impression — 9
For a band who have parted ways with their label, New Found Glory seem unfazed. They have created an album that will appeal to any and all fans of pop, hardcore, and punk. Not Without A Fight is an album that shows why NFG have lasted twelve years as a band, why they have the strength to survive when so many of their comrades in the genre will fall, and why they are the undisputed kings of pop punk. From start to finish, this is an album that goes from strength to strength. Each song can convincingly be a single in it's own right. New and old fans alike will inevitably be shoving this album on repeat for a long time to come. And just because NFG are 12 years deep and 6 original LP's in, doesn't mean that it's too late to get involved. You'd be clinically insane not to give this album a go. Either that or you're blind, deaf and dumb. In which case you have a valid reason and a much bigger problem at hand.