If there’s one thing the internet loves, it’s animated GIFs of cats. If there’s a second thing the internet loves, it’s arguing about everything, all the time, forever and ever. Thus, our new debate column is born! Next up: popcore kings NEW FOUND GLORY. What do you think their best album is? Here’s what some of our editorial staff had to say.
STICKS AND STONES
By Cassie Whitt
The first thing I thought as I began to type this argument for Sticks And Stones being the best New Found Glory album was the song “Sonny,” and how I’ve never been able to sit through it without breaking into tears. So, I tested it. I braced myself at my desk, hit play on track three, and less than a minute in, the lump was in my throat and my vision was clouding with tears. Even now, with the song paused, thinking of “an empty chair at all the tables” is choking me up a bit. It’s so simple but so powerful, and it alone, though it isn’t one of the album’s hits, is enough for me to put it in first place. But, speaking of those “big songs,” Sticks And Stones is chock full of timeless gold. Who doesn’t know all the words (or at least the chorus) to “My Friends Over You,” “Head On Collison” or “Understatement”? Even though those songs were released more than a decade ago, they’ve maintained their vitality and become staples across a couple generations of pop-punk fans—and bands, too. You know who I’m talking about: A little collective called All Time Low? Those bucket hat enthusiasts in the Story So Far? You get one guess at where their names came from. The influence of this album still stands, and musically, it holds up as if it were written yesterday. Sticks And Stones has become a record collection staple and a true classic of the aughts, which can’t be said for many albums.
By Philip Obenschain
Ten years ago, in the midst of the pop-punk renaissance of the early '00s, New Found Glory found themselves thrust into the mainstream spotlight, thanks, largely, to the commercial attention garnered by their 2002 release, Sticks And Stones. A few years later, and fresh off of a headlining run on Warped Tour and supporting dates with genre champions Blink-182, NFG were faced with the daunting task of releasing a follow-up to their most commercially successful album to date, without further being labeled more "pop" than "punk." The result, again pairing the band with producer Neal Avron, was Catalyst, an inescapably catchy and true-to-their-roots effort, which landed at No. 3 on the Billboard Charts, attained Gold certification, and remains one of NFG's best-known releases to date. Perhaps the most perfect blend of the group's signature fast, upbeat punk and melodic hardcore roots with their penchant for penning radio-ready sing-alongs, Catalyst is a nostalgic snapshot of a mid-career transition that showcased not only what New Found Glory could do when given a tremendous platform and pressure to perform, but also how pop-punk could reach a broader radio and MTV audience without compromising its credibility within our scene. NFG have made several tremendous records since, but Catalyst, from start to finish, is their best release, and one of the last prime examples of a time when pop-punk reigned supreme.
TIP OF THE ICEBERG EP
By Scott Heisel
For most bands, EPs serve as stopgaps, keeping momentum moving forward in between full-lengths and giving fans something new to pick up at the merch booth. But Tip Of The Iceberg carries significantly more weight in New Found Glory’s catalog. The band’s most recent full-length at the time, 2006’s Coming Home, was a relatively drastic departure from their pop-punk beginnings, focusing more on rock ballads and piano pop than NFG’s patented breakdowns and sing-alongs. While some of the band’s best work comes from that album, fans were slow to embrace it, and inner turmoil at Geffen Records left the band without proper label support. Down but not out, NFG rebooted in 2008 with Tip Of The Iceberg, a six-song EP with bare-bones production on respected hardcore label Bridge Nine, featuring three covers of hardcore classics as well as, in this writer’s opinion, three of the best New Found Glory songs in existence. The title track is 45 seconds of circle pit-inducing punk before an absolutely monster breakdown with Jordan Pundik howling, “This is just the tip of the iceberg/No bone in my body tells me I deserve her.” Following that is the EP’s standout track, “Dig My Own Grave,” which is loaded for bear with chugging riffs, perfectly placed pops of gang vocals and a pretty sick double-bass part from drummer Cyrus Balooki, plus Pundik’s most powerful vocals in years. (Chad Gilbert’s “I need to learn from my mistakes!” mosh call still gives me chills, too.) “If You Don’t Love Me” sounds ripped straight from the New Jersey punk basement show scene of the mid-’90s—fitting, seeing as how NFG cover Lifetime’s “Cut The Tension” on the same release. Tip Of The Iceberg was exciting as it showed that New Found Glory hadn’t lost touch with who they were, nor who they are.
NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT
By Brian Kraus
The deep-seated hardcore kid in me cheers for Not Without A Fight. Talk about defending pop-punk: The gents on the cover are dressed for war and the songs are, too. Guitars have brawn, choruses have bite and the lyrics have spite—and that's just recapping track one, "Right Where We Left Off." Poppy gang vocals light up "Don't Let Her Pull You Down," likely an idea from former Shai Hulud singer/NFG guitarist Chad Gilbert. If you think they'll ever stop writing about girls, you're just as ridiculous as "47," a song about calling one until you run out of monthly minutes. They pledge allegiance to their bros on "Listen To Your Friends," crafting a catchy hit in the process. It's mostly a power chord flex-fest, which rules, but songs like "Tangled Up" and "I'll Never Love Again" show plenty of love to higher-pitched licks. A firing squad takes aim on "Such A Mess" at the album's tail end, and "Don't Let This Be The End" leaves us with a firm resolution to the relationship. The energy of their heavier influences combined with MTV's TRL appeal that made them famous equals quintessential NFG.