New Found Glory – ‘Make The Most of It’

By Sean Reid

From producing pop-punk classics to paying tribute to silver-screen moments to dropping festive cuts, New Found Glory’s career has certainly been decorative and varied. They’re now adding an acoustic album to their bow in the form of ‘Make The Most Of It’.

Split between seven new songs and seven acoustic renditions of classic New Found Glory, the creation of ‘MTMOI’ was born out of the unfortunate situation of guitarist Chad Gilbert. In late 2021, he was diagnosed with an 8-inch cancerous tumour, a rare pheochromocytoma. A percentage of this record will go towards The Pheo Para Alliance, an organisation advocating the awareness of pheochromocytoma.

The opener ‘Dream Born Again’ sets the hopeful tone that threads the seven new tracks together. While Jordan Pundik’s unmistakable vocals don’t entirely translate to an acoustic setting, the jangly acoustics and optimistic melody make for a pleasing opening.

Understandably, the seven new songs sees Gilbert take an affectionate, autobiographical approach to his songwriting. ‘Mouth To Mouth’ maintains the sentimental tone, dwelling on “making the most of it” while highlighting NFG’s melodic capabilities. ‘Get Me Home’ hones in on Gilbert’s goals on the road to recovery; spending time with loved ones, heading back out on tour, and watching his daughter grow up. It’s a strong, heartwarming cut that emphasises the personal nature of ‘MTMOI’.

‘Watch the Lilies Grow’ takes a balladic route, as Gilbert pens an ode to his daughter, Lilly. Complemented by succulent orchestral swells, it’s an emotional tug on the heartstrings that puts Pundik’s vocals (and Gilbert’s words) at the forefront, whereas ‘More Than Enough’ sees Gilbert show appreciation for his wife. It is one of several new songs that could easily be transformed into the band’s bombastic pop-punk style (‘Get Me Home’ and ‘Dream Born Again’ being the other songs).

Gilbert’s gratitude continues on ‘Kiss The Floor’ as it takes an overarching tone of appreciation. Pundik’s role as Gilbert’s messenger is sincerely executed – throughout these seven songs, his vocals share the optimism and thankful tone Chad has written. Having spent over 25 years together in New Found Glory, it’s no surprise that the love and respect Pundik has for Gilbert has allowed him to confidently express the writer’s thoughts and emotions in a suitable manner. ‘Bloom’ ends the first half with one final plucky acoustic slice of optimism. However, it’s one of the more forgettable offerings on this side.

Part two of ‘MTMOI’ puts emphasis on NFG’s celebratory nature. Recorded in front of an intimate live crowd in Franklin, Tennessee, it allows longtime fans to hear favourites such as ‘All Downhill From Here’ and ‘Dressed To Kill’ in a stripped-down fashion. With crowd participation scattered throughout, it’s a short, plucky snapshot of NFG’s longevity and influence. Although Pundik’s vocals don’t always translate into an intimate acoustic setting brilliantly, the classic hooks and melodies firmly remain intact.

Ending with the one-two power punch of ‘My Friends Over You’ and ‘Hit Or Miss’, it’s a feel-good reminder of NFG’s ability to write timeless pop-punk songs. When paired with the starting sentimental set, it’s obvious that Gilbert and Pundik, along with Ian Grushka (bass guitar) and Cyrus Bolooki (drums) have a flair for writing annoyingly good melodies that continue to bring fans together. Even though there’s a sense they’ve been tagged on to make what would be an EP a full album, you can appreciate the quartet’s ability to transform these fan favourites into a tight-knit acoustic setting.

‘Make The Most Of It’ is far from a throwaway acoustic record. The new songs on offer are executed with substance and care. The overarching message of hope is delivered with warmth. Whereas the live acoustic set of NFG classics is sure to be a welcomed bonus for any longtime fans.

SÊAN REID

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