Review Summary: Disappointing
My god, after their EP on Bridge Nine Records and their subsequent signing to Epitaph it seemed like anything was possible for NFG. It seemed like the band could just blame their old record label for the sudden change of direction found on Coming Home
and go back to the pop-punk that made them famous. The optimistic among us saw the album title, Not Without a Fight
, as further proof that NFG were coming back strong. At about the same time, the band put the first single, “Listen to Your Friends”, online and it seemed to solidify that the fun, energetic NFG were back and the serious, sterile NFG was gone. Unfortunately, after listening to the whole album I have to say that all of this hope was basically for nothing.
The best way to describe this album is equal parts Sticks and Stones
and Coming Home
. At first this might sound like a good blend since that should imply a return to the energy and big choruses of Sticks and Stones
combined with the stronger song writing found on Coming Home
. While the songs definitely have a more energetic sound and an emphasis on catchy choruses, there is still something about them that doesn’t quite sit right. After a few listens the reason for this becomes more apparent. The problem is that the elements taken from the two albums just don’t work together. The oh-so-serious relationship lyrics and sterile alt-rock riffs and arrangements simply strip away the fun-factor that should have been present. The one stand-out track is the single “Listen to Your Friends” because it abandons any ambitious goals and is just a fun song. It’s the kind of simple and catchy song that NFG excel at; the kind of song that is otherwise completely missing from the rest of this album.
It is unfortunate that the energetic nature of the songs ends up being wasted on lifeless riffing and boring lyrical ventures. No one has ever accused NFG of being virtuosos but they were always able to craft catchy melodies and memorable choruses; that ability doesn’t come across this time. Instead we’re given a collection of songs that really don’t have much identity and all sort of blend together by the time it’s over. Worse yet, is that the few memorable moments all stand out for the wrong reasons. The main source of this negative attention comes from the return of the hardcore shouts. The problem is that they never fit the song or the words that are actually being yelled. Hearing the band gang-shout “I’ll never love again” on the track of the same name brings me to uncontrolled laughter every time, and that is just one example of the horrible way they’re implemented.
It really feels as if the band wanted to maintain the “maturity” they tried to establish on their last album while bringing back the elements that brought them popularity to begin with. Unfortunately, combining the two opposing styles just ruins any positives they had individually. Despite the renewed energy, the album is too serious and rigid for its own good. Not Without a Fight
lacks the kind of hooks, fun riffs, and sing-along choruses that made the band famous and it also lacks the solid song writing that helped their last album not become a horrible failure.