New Found Glory, the rock/punk/pop (otherwise known as “emo”) band, has released their 5th studio album Coming Home. While this CD is not for everybody, there is certainly an audience for it, not to mention a tune or two worth tapping a foot to.
New Found Glory began in Florida, before relocating to sunny California for more music ventures. Vocalist Jordan Pundik and Guitarist Steve Klein dreamt up the band's name while working at Red Lobster in the mid 1990’s; if only we could all find inspiration from boiling live seafood. Regardless of how you feel about the group, they have clearly come a long way from the crab legs and butter sauce.
As I unwrapped the plastic from the album cover, I wasn’t expecting a light joy ride from Coming Home. The ‘emo’ genre, loaded with unoriginality and corporate consequence, has offered ear-gouging experiences for quite some time. But here, we have a group that seems genuinely into what they are playing and are probably as self-made as you can get these days. None of the lyrics or musical notes will provoke thought or inspiration, but let it be said that these boys are spunky as hell and are not going to take it anymore!
Coming Home bursts open with its first track “Oxygen,” which discouragingly begs us with the “Don’t Leave Me Here” chorus. This comes off as a little needy, yet with the vocals pushed to maximum volume and the beat kept at its secondary function, there couldn’t be a better track to kick off the album. In an ironic turn, it isn’t until track 10, “Familiar Landscapes,” where they ask us “What do you want from me?” as if they don’t know what might please the listener. Although, be forewarned: I did detect a hint of religious connotations on the song, along with “When I Die” and “Connected.”
By far the two catchiest tunes on the CD are the pop-o-licious “On My Mind” and the adorable “Too Good To Be.” Each are so entertaining they made even your humble reviewer flip his baseball cap backwards and dance improvised moves around the apartment, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend.
Coming Home packs it in with the two solid and oddly solemn ballads “Connected” and “Boulders,” despite sounding like they brought some girls in from church to sing back-up on each track. The songs provide the CD with an unexpectedly dimmed-down finale that refreshingly diverts from the tone of the other songs.
Some of you may not want to hear Coming Home because you may not have liked the group’s previous efforts, or you have a strong aversion to this type of music. There is, at least, something you can all find comfort in: I am proud to report that the band’s 27 year-old lead singer Pundik has finally hit the first stages of puberty. That’s right, the high pitched screech that belted out “My Friend’s Over You” back in 2002 is starting to deepen and is developing a more manly tone. Mind you, he’s not there yet, but perhaps we can expect one heck of a Barry White impression for their next CD.
For what it is, this is a light and energizing record. Who says that everything has to be serious or innovative, anyway? Maybe shutting off the brain and cranking the stereo is exactly what we need every now and then.