New Found Glory – ‘Forever And Ever x Infinity’

By Gem Rogers

When it comes to alternative music, and especially the fickle land of pop punk, no band gets to have a 20+ year career without having something special about them. Among them, and showing no signs of slowing down, are New Found Glory; with more than two decades of ups and downs behind them, and a set of albums that consistently make appearances on favourites lists around the globe, the Floridian four have now reached their tenth full-length studio release in the shape of ‘Forever And Ever x Infinity’. And those ten albums don’t include their various side projects and beloved ‘From The Screen To Your Stereo’ releases – pop punk may have changed dramatically over the last few decades, but that New Found Glory remain at the heart of it is a fact that surely can’t be disputed.

Of course, it’s also true that pop punk is an inherently youthful genre – and for a band who are now in their late thirties and early forties, it’s hard not to wonder how they can continue to make songs that are authentic, without losing their classic pop punk sound. 2017’s ‘Make Me Sick’ and 2014’s ‘Resurrection’ found the perfect balance, chucking anger (‘The Worst Person’, ‘Your Jokes Aren’t Funny’), persistence and self-improvement (‘One More Round’) and a dash of angsty nihilism (‘Party On Apocalypse’) into the mix to create pop punk that continues to have relevance for their now equally full-grown fanbase (well, full-grown-ish, for those of us in denial).

‘Forever And Ever x Infinity’ aims to continue that trend and starts in fine upbeat form with ‘Shook By Your Shaved Head’. Underpinned by a chugging bassline and chunky riffs, this is the sound that New Found Glory do best, and there could be no better time for this album to land than summer; if anything could make up for this year’s lack of festivals, it’s pop punk played at unhealthy volumes. Energetic and fun with a capital F, these songs represent a swan dive back into the tracks we fell in love with on albums like ‘Sticks And Stones’ and ‘New Found Glory’ – and second track and lead single ‘Greatest Of All Time’ is all the proof needed that they’re still more than capable of creating those big, singalong choruses and beats that keep your feet moving, though there’s plenty more still to come.

There’s still a hearty dose of angst hanging around in the form of tracks like the punky ‘Nothing To Say’ and ‘Like I Never Existed’, and more than a few classic NFG love songs in the jaunty ‘Stay Awhile’, soft ballad ‘More And More’, and anthemic ‘Do You Want To Settle Down?’, never leaning too heavily on one theme. It’s as you make your way through these songs, though, that one of the biggest downsides of this fifteen track album becomes evident – it is, quite simply, too bloody long. Though three or four additions doesn’t sound like much in theory, previous albums have felt far snappier at twelve tracks or less, and there’s not really enough diversity in the sound on ‘Forever And Ever x Infinity’ to easily maintain such a long runtime.

That said, repeat plays do this album plenty of favours as certain tracks begin to shine and stand out from the aural crowd – ‘Himalaya’, for example, is a highlight, throwing out snare aplenty on the verses with a ‘Better Off Dead’-style vibe, while the uplifting spirit of ‘The Way You Deserve’ and chuggy, classic pop punk sounds in ‘Scarier Than Jason Voorhees At A Campfire’ reignite the fire towards the end of the record. Despite the length, there’s still plenty of life and genuine energy rippling throughout the album; even on the occasions it begins to feel like a bit of a slog, it never feels tired. It’s a shame the album finishes on the slightly dull ‘Slipping Away’, with its more classic, ballady rock approach resulting in a bit of a downer for a primarily high energy release. The hints of ‘Coming Home’ about it suggest that it could be a grower, though, and the final echoing moments are a peaceful and effective wind down.

Despite a handful of flaws (and a desperate need of a trim), ‘Forever And Ever x Infinity’ is the work of a band who, twenty years on, are still full of fresh ideas, bringing them to life without betraying the sound we know and love. Yes, there’s a few clunky and clichéd lyrics here and there, but they will somehow matter less when it comes to bellowing them aloud at a gig or festival – and, after all, on stage is where New Found Glory truly bring their songs to life. For those of us who’ve long held NFG in our hearts, this is a release that will comfortably nestle right in there alongside all that preceded it – and the kings of pop punk continue their reign.

GEM ROGERS

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