October 04, 2011 - Epitaph
This review originally ran in AP 280.
In medical terms, radiosurgery is a type of non-invasive surgery frequently used to treat things such as brain tumors or epilepsy. During this procedure, an über-powerful, ultra-focused dose of radiation zeroes in on the area of the brain or body affected; the ultimate goal of radiosurgery is to minimize damage to healthy tissue by only attacking the damaged area. In New Found Glory’s world, Radiosurgery is the title of their seventh studio album. And like the surgical procedure, the record is focused and precise: The longest song, the Green Day-circa-Dookie jog “Map Of Your Body,” clocks in at three-and-a-half minutes, and the summery riffs and brisk tempos on the album gravitate toward the “pop” side of “pop-punk.”
Radiosurgery’s sugary title track is an earworm again suggesting early Green Day, while “Summer Fling, Don’t Mean A Thing” echoes the jagged riffs of Cheap Trick’s late-’70s golden years. Better still is “Caught In The Act,” which features vocals from Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. Her wistful, sly coo meshes perfectly with Jordan Pundik’s yearning croon and elevates the song’s prom-punk vibe into something special. Fittingly, Best Coast’s starry-eyed girl-group vibe infiltrates Radiosurgery—from the dreamy slow-dance bridge during “Map Of The World” and perky handclaps on “Drill It In My Brain” to the chord progressions and whoa-oh harmonies on multiple songs.
This bittersweet style suits the album’s central theme: wrestling with the emotional and physical aftermath of a nasty breakup. The protagonist of “Summer Fling, Don’t Mean A Thing” deflects a girl looking for an ephemeral relationship, while the title track and “Map Of Your Body” address when heartbreak drives someone crazy. Meanwhile, “Dumped” is, well, self-explanatory. (“You were, you were/The only one to break my heart.”) These are well-worn topics, sure, but Radiosurgery’s breezy music ensures melancholy rarely creeps into the mix—and any implied lyrical anger quickly dissipates.
Working with Neal Avron for the first time since 2004’s Catalyst was a smart move on the band’s part: The producer has always highlighted NFG’s poppiest tendencies while preventing them from losing their bite. The rabble-rousing riffs kickstarting “Ready, Aim, Fire!” wouldn’t be out of place on a Dropkick Murphys disc (or on an obscure single from a member of punk’s class of ’76), while the speedy “Memories And Battle Scars” conjures the aggression of Descendents. Sporadic gang vocals (“I’m Not The One”) and the occasional breakdown (“Drill It In My Brain”) further add punch.
More important, Avron’s insistence that New Found Glory hone their songwriting—in a recent interview with AP, guitarist Chad Gilbert said Avron refused to produce the album until the band sent him demos he deemed of high-enough quality—ensures Radiosurgery is a cohesive, consistent listen. At this point in their career, the band could coast on fan goodwill and their reputation as patriarchs of the genre. But by refusing to settle for “good enough”—and by creating an homage to youthful, timeless pop-punk—New Found Glory sound revitalized and relevant.