Sound — 8
"Radiosurgery" is the 7th album from the Florida pop punk band New Found Glory. For me personally this album comes after the disappointing "Coming Home" and "Not Without A Fight". I was hoping this album would be a return to the bands classic sound and fortunately this is without a doubt the best release the band has made in years. Surprisingly, upon my first listen to the album I was a bit underwhelmed; it seemed like an alright pop punk album but nothing special. After seeing the band perform many of the tracks live however I was blown away upon a repeated listen. The album really harkens back to the pop punk of the late 90's and early 2000's abandoning some of the slower and non-traditional pop punk songs found on the bands last two releases. While this could be viewed as a simplification in song structure, it is not in a negative way. These songs are the catchiest and most rocking songs I have heard from the band since the days of the bands phenomenal third album Sticks and Stones. The songs are pop punk meaning the power chord is king. Some may bash this style for its lack of complexity; however the songs presented here for the most part are real rockers and catchy as hell proving that songwriting is the true talent of an artist not just their technical ability. The power chord onslaught is broken up by the occasional melodic riff or solo coming from lead guitarist Chad Gilbert, and these are well played adding interest to the music. Drums are well executed in addition, not just sticking to a few stereotypical pop punk patterns and always punching through the mix. Bass is often mimicking guitar, but is given time to shine during a few verses and bridges occasionally even being overdriven. The songs follow a typical structure with an often explosive and catchy hook in the chorus. These can even save songs with weaker verses such as "Dumped". The bridges are never too out of left field for the most part being modifications of the main riff of the song, or a very mild breakdown, but this helps the flow of the songs overall as you never feel you are being jerked along as the song progresses. An exception can be found on the closing track "Map Of Your Body" which features a dramatic tempo shift and the lone clean guitar on the album. Production is as you would expect for a large pop punk band. Guitars are thick while still maintaining their treble, and avoiding sounding too ear piercing or muddy. The dual guitars of Chad Gilbert and Steve Klein sometime diverge from one another as Steve will provide a rhythm for Chad to elaborate on and both guitars are always clear and distinct. Drums are well defined allowing you to clearly makeout what Cyprus Bolooki is playing, and Ian Grushka's bass has a nice presence without overpowering the mix. Jordan Pudik's vocals are always strong in the front of the mix occasionally being backed up by members of the band coming through nicely but clearly in the background.
Lyrics — 7
Girls, girls, girls pretty much sums it up, it is a pop punk record from New Found Glory would you expect anything less? While not forging new ground for the genre the lyrics are well written with no particularly cringe worthy lines thankfully and the melody they are sung too is almost always excellent. Jordan sings a bit lower and some could say more technically proficient on this album compared to some earlier releases such as "Nothing Gold Can Stay" or the self titled LP, and while there is certainly nothing wrong with his voice as a personal preference I do favor his sound from older records. The songs are well sung however with no obviously out of key moments, and besides an occasional wimpy sounding "Yeah!" they are performed and fit the music perfectly. The lyrics are always cleanly sung as typical for the band with an occasional call and response from the backing vocal such as on the lead single "Radiosurgery". Bethany Cosentino provides additional vocals on the track "Caught In The Act" and helps to make that particular song stand out on the record for its diversity. While no lines will make you truly stop and think about them, they are good for the genre and work well overall.
Overall Impression — 9
I really enjoyed "Radiosurgery", I feel that its miles ahead of anything the band has released since 2004 and will be in the bands live set for years to come. The hooks stay with me long after the record ends and I have to fight the urge to hit repeat when it finally ends. The individual tracks definitely stand out more to me than some of their other releases and I hope that they will continue with this trend on subsequent records; because this is certainly the New Found Glory I have been wanting to hear for years. My favorite tracks on the record would have to be "I'm Not The One", "Ready, Aim, Fire!" and "Summer Fling, Don't Mean A Thing", however almost every track on the record could fit into this category as there are none that I would particularly skip if not pressed for time. My least favorite tracks were "Dumped" and "Radiosurgery" but I would choose these in a heartbeat to anything on the three previous albums. I would definitely recommend the deluxe version of the album as the 4 bonus tracks are well worth it. 3 of them are New Found Glory originals that I'm amazed didn't make the record, "Over Again" is the fastest song I've heard them put out since "Sticks And Stones" while still remaining incredibly catchy and "Separate Beds" has one of the albums best choruses in my opinion. The deluxe version closes with the a cover of the Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop", obviously this version pales in comparison to the original but honestly who could ever out rock the Ramones; and this version is not awful by any means and is a nice fun track to close out the album. It's amazing that the record did not stick at first, however that was clearly my fault for still having a bad taste in my mouth from "Coming Home" and "Not Without A Fight". The inner sleeve boldly proclaims that "Pop Punk's Not Dead" and after many listens I would have to agree. 2011 saw some great pop punk releases, and this one stands out in my mind as one of the best. If the album doesn't stick at first I can only hope you will give it another chance as I did because this is one of the band's best releases in years.