New Found Glory

Not Without a Fight

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Not Without a Fight was released in early 2009, a year in which the intersection between pop-punk and emo-pop had become impossibly crowded with young, fresh-faced bands looking to funnel their adolescence into hit records. Pitted against that age bracket, New Found Glory ran the risk of appearing far too old to play this sort of music, the bulk of which caters to teenaged audiences in the first place. Not Without a Fight is par for the pop-punk course, though, receiving its biggest boosts from producer Mark Hoppus (who, at the age of 30, was still wooing high-school students during blink-182's glory days) and the mature performance of frontman Jordan Pundik, who sounds less nasal here than on previous records. Unrequited love is still Pundik's subject of choice, and he peppers the songs with angry allusions to breakup letters, broken hearts, and unanswered phone calls. Unlike his younger pop-punk contemporaries, though, Pundik no longer seems smitten with the idea of a happy relationship; there are precious few traces of the urgent, here's-to-the-night ethos that other groups champion so heartily. There are also precious few singles here, with nothing approaching the radio-geared playability of "My Friends Over You" -- although "Listen to Your Friends," with its syncopated guitars and ever-present harmonies, does come close. Taken as a whole, Not Without a Fight is a smartly balanced album: mature in its outlook, and happily adolescent in most everything else.

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