There’s nothing like pop-punk in the summer. When the sun is shining, and the air is warm, it’s the perfect time of year to drive around with your windows down, blasting some New Found Glory. During a normal summer, a new New Found Glory album could become the soundtrack of a season spent with friends, going on vacation, tailgating for concerts, and family BBQs. Summer 2020 is going to be a much different summer than we’re used to. Fortunately for long time fans of New Found Glory, you have a new album for you to lose yourself in for 48 minutes.
New Found Glory is back with Forever + Ever x Infinity, their tenth studio album. It’s a record that finds the band going back to their roots of punk, hardcore and post-hardcore instead of continuing to explore the lighter pop elements that frequented 2017’s Makes Me Sick. If this sounds familiar, it’s basically the same thing that happened when they elected to ditch the mellow and softer sounds of 2006’s Coming Home to return to rock/punk with 2009’s Not Without A Fight. If you were a fan of Makes Me Sick and were hoping to see the band continue down this road, you might be disappointed with this release. However, if you’re a fan of NFG albums like Catalyst and Resurrection, you’ll walk away pretty happy with what you hear.
Right off the bat, the band kicks off Forever + Ever x Infinity with a ton of energy on the opener “Shook By Your Shaved Head.” Guitarist Chad Gilbert starts the track with a guitar riff before the rest of the band jumps in like a rush of adrenaline. Lead singer Jordan Pundik’s voice somehow remains the same after all these years, and even though he’s now 40, he weaves his way through the song with the spirit of a 20-year-old.
New Found Glory keeps this momentum up with “Greatest of All Time,” a song about the beginning of a romantic relationship that touches on those early fears and the hope that as a couple, you’ll become an incredible team. This idea is driven home with the lyrics “We would make the best team / Better than the ’96 Bulls ever were / Jordan, Rodman, and Pippen / Wouldn’t have known what had hit them.” With the Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance” taking the world by storm this year, what perfect timing to have lyrics like this.
Forever + Ever x Infinity is littered with songs like “Greatest of All Time” that will probably leave you with some nostalgic feelings. “Double Chin For The Win” sounds like it could’ve appeared on the soundtrack of an early 2000s rom-com while “Stay Awhile” feels like it was shot out of 2004, when New Found Glory, Simple Plan, and Yellowcard were some of the biggest bands around.
New Found Glory may remind you of this era in pop-punk on this album, but make no mistake, the band still shows how far they’ve come in that time. On Forever + Ever x Infinity, this is the most confident Gilbert has sounded since he became the sole guitarist of the band in 2013. He absolutely shreds on the hardcore ending of “Nothing to Say” and uses his guitar strings to carry “Like I Ever Existed.” His brightest moment comes on “Himalaya,” which is basically a sequel to “At Least I’m Known For Something” off Catalyst. Not only does he have an extremely catchy riff, but he also jumps in for some screaming vocals at the end. Of course, Gilbert doesn’t do this all himself. The rhythm section of drummer Cyrus Bolooki and bass player Ian Grushka help round out “Himalaya” and every other track, giving the album that signature NFG feel.
While sonically the band sounds just as good as they always have, some of the lyrics on the album feel like they’re more likely to appear on NFG’s debut album instead of the tenth entry in their discography. There are lyrics here that will make you cringe with how cheesy they are. Take “Same Side Sitters,” where Pundik sings “I’m holding on to you/ Holding onto you / Like Gorilla Glue” or “Birthday Song But Not Really,” where he talks simply about someone making him feel like it’s his birthday every day. The worst perpetrator of bad lyrics though, is “Trophy.” I’ll let the chorus speak for itself: “I ran a race / And came up empty/ Until I met you and now you’re my trophy / I hope I didn’t objectify you / Feel like a winner when I’m standing by you.” Unfortunately, lyrical content like this knocks the new album down a few pegs.
Songs like these are frustrating, especially when they appear alongside tracks where the band is creative in the songwriting. As a big scary movie fan, I love how the band plays with the concept that falling in love is more terrifying than horror movies on “Scarier Than Jason Vorhees At A Campfire.” There’s also the simple but incredibly catchy “The Way You Deserve.” The track that stands out the most here though is, “Slipping Away,” a song that feels like it would fit right in on Coming Home (Coincidently, this is the first New Found Glory song to be over five minutes long since “Boulders” on Coming Home). This track is one of the best ballads the band has written in years, and it sends the album off on a high note, especially the final minute and half of gang vocals.
While Forever + Ever x Infinity was originally supposed to be released on May 29, the delay to June 19 couldn’t have worked out better for the band. This is truly a summer record. Had it come out at a different time of the year, I’m not sure I’d be able to overlook some of the corniness of the lyrics. However, the band still sounds so good as a whole, and it’s a reminder of why so many people still love New Found Glory after all these years. Some might say they played it safe on this record by not really trying anything outside the box, but sometimes it’s nice to visit a familiar friend; especially in a time where the world feels so different.