I keep trying to come up with on-topic things to write about today, but all I can think about is the new New Found Glory album Makes Me Sick. This isn’t a review. I’m not sure what this is, really.
But I like this album. A lot.
I didn’t know what to think about this latest New Found Glory album in the weeks and months leading up to its release. 2009’s Not Without a Fight had some really enjoyable tracks, but I stopped listening to it relatively quickly. 2011’s Radiosurgery seemed to come into and go out of my life as quickly as it released. 2014’s Resurrection was technically a return to form (and an objectively good one), but it didn’t do much for me.
The band seemed content to stay in the relative safety of the pop punk they became known for in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Which is fine. But it wasn’t for me anymore. Bands like The Wonder Years (and later Modern Baseball) refined and altered the pop punk formula and assumed control of my headphones. I don’t know if New Found Glory was actually lost in the decade-plus since the excellent Coming Home, but they were lost on me.
The band had become a nostalgic act in my eyes. They kept putting out new music, but it was their older releases that held a place in my heart despite not even listening to those much anymore. Whereas Taking Back Sunday had grown and changed their sound over the years (even after returning to their original lineup), New Found Glory continued to bounce back to the sound they mastered on Sticks and Stones and Catalyst to diminishing returns.
The two songs released prior to the album, “Happy Being Miserable” and “Party On Apocalypse,” are solid pop punk tracks. But I feared Makes Me Sick would be another check in the “I wish I liked this a lot more than I actually do” column. It’s not.
Those pre-release tracks are my least favorite on the album (I’m not saying I don’t enjoy them, just to be clear), and the rest followed an exhilarating pattern that went a little something like this: “Okay, this one’s going to by my favorite track on here. No, this one. No…”
Makes Me Sick is undoubtedly a pop punk album. It’s instantly identifiable as a New Found Glory album (although what wouldn’t be with Jordan Pundik’s vocals?). But this is the most inventive and adventurous New Found Glory has been since 2006’s Coming Home. It still carries the iconic, melody-driven, massive chorus mid-2000s pop punk sound New Found Glory helped create, but it’s also filled with influences from ’80s synth-pop and modern power pop. This includes a few tracks that feel heavily inspired by Paramore— a band fronted by Hayley Williams, wife of NFG guitarist Chad Gilbert. Paramore’s early albums were heavily influenced by the likes of New Found Glory, so this is a wonderful circle of inspiration that I hope never ends.
Pressed to give you a single favorite track, I’d probably say “Blurred Vision” right now, almost exclusively because it’s the song that happens to be playing at the moment on my second time through the album. Other highlights include “Call Me Anti-Social,” “Say It Don’t Spray It,” and “Barbed Wire,” and do you really want me to list out the rest of the song titles? You get the point.
New Found Glory will always be a pop punk band. But they’ve proven with Makes Me Sick that they’re not just a pop punk band, whatever that means. I don’t know if Makes Me Sick will end up among the best albums of 2017, or even my favorites, but I can tell you with absolute certainty it will be the soundtrack to my summer. The long drive from LA to NYC would be full of fun regardless of the music accompanying it, but it’ll be a lot more enjoyable with Makes Me Sick blasting out of my car’s stereo as I drive with the windows down.