New Found Glory – Sticks and Stones
Record Label: MCA / Drive-Thru Records
Release Date: June 11th, 2002
The phrases “pop-punk is dead” and “defend pop-punk” are very misleading; why should we defend pop-punk when pop-punk has been alive and well for as long as the genre has been around, at least in its modern form, anyway. I’m turning 20 this year, and while I know I’m a bit too young to remember the early 00s pop-punk scene, I’m certainly been quite in tune with the past few years. Bands like Fireworks, I Call Fives, With the Punches, The Story So Far, Man Overboard, and plenty more have taken over the current pop-punk scene, and were handed the reigns from bands like Taking Back Sunday, Blink-182, The Movielife, and New Found Glory. In fact, NFG’s third album (and major label debut) Sticks and Stones is an essential pop-punk record, just like Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends and Fall Out Boy’s Take This to Your Grave. What do I mean by essential? This is a record that has influenced pop-punk greatly, and is the epitome of what we’ve come to know as “pop-punk.” But enough talk about this record, let’s dive right into Sticks and Stones, shall we?
The record begins with “Understatement,” and to talk about how great this record is really is an understatement. It doesn’t take long for lead vocalist Jordan Pundik to kick in. His voice is one of the more unique ones in the genre, and I don’t mean in that in a negative way whatsoever; it’s rather nasally, but it’s unique. Pop-punk is not a genre known for its diversity, and while there are a few bands in the genre that do something different, most pop-punk bands are known for their unique vocalists, New Found Glory being one of them. This leads me to the conundrum I’m in while I’m thinking of how to describe my thoughts on this record – I like it because it’s quite consistent throughout, but at the same time, I don’t. There are a lot of memorable songs on this record, and that’s not to say there aren’t any truly forgettable songs, but the songs that hit really hit, and the ones that don’t are just okay. The first song is one of those “okay” songs. It’s great, and it’s the epitome of NFG, but the second track, “My Friends Over You” is one of those tracks that insanely hits. This is the best song on the record, hands down. This is a song that most pop-punk fans know, and for good reason. “My Friends Over You” has one of the overarching themes of pop-punk, which is obviously, one’s friends are more important than girls. Of course, depending on who you are, that may or may not be true, but that seems to be a very recurring theme in the genre, and to be fair, one of the main reasons people enjoy it is because of the “feels” that it gives off. That’s why I enjoy pop-punk. The lyrics are the best part, because I can almost always relate to them. Not to mention, “My Friends Over You” does contain a very memorable guitar riff by guitarist Chad Gilbert.
Since my favorite song is the second one, how does the rest of the album fair up? Oh, it’s simple: it fairs up quite nicely. It goes back to what I mentioned earlier on in the review – some tracks are memorable and others are just merely okay. Third track “Sonny” is one of the more memorable tracks, while a track like eighth track “Never Give Up” isn’t as memorable, but still enjoyable, nonetheless. The middle of the album is quite fantastic as well; from fifth track “Head On Collision” to seventh track “Forget My Name,” anyway. Those tracks are absolutely wonderful, and are memorable in every single way. There are some exceptions within the last half of the record, too. “The Great Houdini” is one of those tracks, as well as last track “The Story So Far.” That’s the longest song at about half an hour. Thankfully, though, the real song is about four minutes long, but it’s a great track. It’s a bit slower than the rest of the record, which I love. It’s different, and makes the prior 40 or so minutes definitely worth it. At the very end of the half hour, Jordan and the other guys get into some shenanigans, and then the album ends. And the record definitely leaves a lasting impression on me. It’s one of the best pop-punk records to ever exist, and that’s saying a lot. I do enjoy variety, but this is straight-forward pop-punk at its finest. While some songs may be as memorable as others, as a whole, this record is very memorable.