Pop-punk is a much maligned genre. People think it's emo, crappy, annoying, bland, and just plain ***ty. This opinion is usually incredibly misguided and largely ignorant people who watch too much MTV are usually those to make this claim. And that's because crappy bands make it big. You know the drill. Simple Plan, Good Charlotte, Hawthorne Heights. All widely accepted as garbage bands, and pretty much always were. But when you get to New Found Glory, you reach a nasty situation. New Found Glory used to be pretty good. Their debut, Nothing Gold Can Stay
, contained charming punky little toons from a little band that had big dreams, but no one actually took seriously. But by the time they dropped Sticks and Stones
, the band finally mastered the art of pop hooks and catchy-ass harmonies. "My Friends Over You" and "Understatement" were favorite diddies of tweenagers everywhere. The band contained relative mainstream status now, and by the time they felt like dropping their 4th album, Catalyst
, a branching out from their sound was not only understandable, but expected. But like so many bands, the branch was a thin one, and though it looks pretty upon first glance, push on it a little, and it'll snap off and come crashing down.
, while supposedly trying to be a statement of attitude, comes off sounding like a house of 5 spoiled boys between the ages of 3 and 10 with instruments. Lead singer Jordan Pundik's perfected generic whine sounds like a kid with a temper tantrum as he obnoxiously over-shouts lines like "What's your problem? Can't you see it? Then you go and blow it like everyone knows you will." Not only does Pundik's voice sound like he has vocal cords in his nose, he has the lyrical intelligence of a kindergartner. Rarely does he use words more than two syllables, and no signs of improvement are in sight. It's so disappointing when a band who packed "I'm too good for girls" anthems into their first 3 albums change to senseless lyrics and nervous virgin emo ballads. I Don't Wanna Know
is an overdone, overproduced, cheesy slow track with some out of place violins, a la "Ocean Avenue" Yellowcard and a Lillith Fair imitator playing the role of nervous slut. The band used to have such a knack for providing their slower songs with still anthemic qualities. Sticks And Stones
' "Forget My Name" had a relatable though overdone theme and provided a voice for the typical lonely adolescent, but I Don't Wanna Know
's sex makes me nervous storyline makes New Found Glory just sound like pussies, although I give them credit for being one of the few bands to admit first sex is scary. Interestingly after I Don't Wanna Know
, the very next tune has the band almost-anthem shouting "I wanna know." It's painfully funny to listen to these guys contradict themselves track after track. On No News Is Good News
, New Found Glory, a band that survives only because of the faux punk obsession teens have, goes on an anti MTV rant, calling out "I can't imagine what they'll tell me: What to wear, what to drink, where to eat." The first lines of the album pretty much tell you what you should think about New Found Glory. Don't believe a word they ***ing say.
While the band may have had the best of intentions when putting out Catalyst
, they somehow manage to sacrifice song depth and quality. Songs sound incredibly alike, with drummer Cyrus Balooki never during the course of the album successfully straying from a typical punk beat, bass-snare, bass-snare. Nearly the entire album consists of the simple formula any kid in a garage could write. Palm muted verses, loud choruses. Nothing much else to say. Guitarists Chad Gilbert and Steve Klein rarely get to show off their talent should they have any, and even if they did, Pundik's vocals are so mind numbingly whiny and invasive, you can't pay attention to anything else. Ian Grushka's basswork is minimal, as if he just is along for the ride. It's a general problem with pop-punk. Few bands within the genre expand their basswork beyond rootnotes, and New Found Glory is no exception, especially on Catalyst
. On past albums, some interesting instrumentations and creativity were present, especially on the hysterical 7 song EP From The Screen to Your Stereo
, where NFG pop-punked up 80's movies anthems. But Catalyst
contains nothing outside the formula, leading to a boring, repetitive listen. It's a frusterating problem that I as a music buyer have often encountered, but have tolerated due to the fact I enjoyed the song the band kept repeating. On New Found Glory's Catalyst
, the song is dull, annoying, and is just plain depressing. At Least I'm Known For Something
? The only thing this album is going to be known for will likely be it's contribution to the death of punk.
The reason this album is so frustrating is that you can audibly hear how it could be so much better. If Pundik wasn't singing through his nose the entire thing, maybe the album could have garnered a better rating. Worse than Pundik's vocal ineptitude is the fact that on many songs, he goes completely out of his singing range, like Taking Back Sunday's Adam Lazzara, only without the passion. On This Disaster
Pundik pulls a Davey Havok and somehow thinks it's necessary to go unbelievably high in his vocal range, to a point where it's almost scary. And you can hear how it's affecting him too. On Truth of My Youth
, Pundik shouts "These are my thoughts written down on paper. It's my only savior from not sayin' *Gasp* What I wanna say." No amount of slick production could fix that. While past albums controlled Pundik's annoyingly nasal whine, Catalyst
lets it go untamed, and it takes a massive chunk out of the album. The production on the album makes it impossible for the listener to hear anything else, as his lyrical travesties master control the collection. Generic song titles and themes make the album easy to hate, and makes the listener ask how can they still respect themselves after writing songs under titles such as Doubt Full
? I'm sure the money helped maintain New Found Glory's self esteem at a reasonable level.
To put it simply, this album would be a waste of time. It's not often I make a mistake as grand as buying this. Many a listener once a mild fan of New Found Glory's poppy melodies and kid friendly harmonies will run into a big brick wall when they turn on Catalyst
. It's a colossal error, by far New Found Glory's worst album to date. It seems like they threw together the album in a week and recorded. The lovable "You're a meany" themes of previous albums change to "Wahh you stink" and "Sex is creepy". Catalyst
shouldn't even be for the diehard fan of New Found Glory. And I'm not being harsh. After all, it kind of sucks when it's a non-arguable point that the best part of your album was the thirty-seven second intro.
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