Makes Me Sick won’t change your opinion of New Found Glory.
Early in Makes Me Sick, singer Jordan Pundik declares, “I’m an alien crashed in an old west town/ Beam me up, get me out.” Given that NFG play guitar-based pop-punk in 2017, he ain’t that far off.
Coming off of a forgettable and overlong effort in 2014’s Resurrection, Sick is a breezy affair – 10 songs in 34 minutes – and finds NFG in course-correction mode by returning to hooky, up-tempo songs. In this way, it’s a worthy successor to 2011’s Radiosurgery and amongst the strongest albums in the band’s catalog.
Sick’s most notable feature is the addition of synths peppered throughout its runtime. The use of electronic elements suggests that the band is at least aware of what their peers are doing, even if they’ve refused to (completely) follow suit. While they haven’t gone full EDM (yet?), songs like “Happy Being Miserable,” “Barbed Wire” and “Say It Don’t Spray It” demonstrate that while NFG may not favor electronics, their guitar crunch can at least can play nicely with them. Elsewhere, the tropical-flavored “The Sound of Two Voices” and the indie rock feel of “Blurred Vision” are a welcome change of pace for a band whose stubbornness is equally a strength and a weakness 20 years in.
Meanwhile, Sick features well-worn lyrical themes from pop-punk’s past. Pundik even admits as much on “Short and Sweet”: “I’ll shout it out even though they’ll say they’ve heard this all before. ” Breakups, being the awkward kid in high school and celebrating self-worth are all covered. Even their less-clever-than-it-thinks snark is intact: “Got no quarters in my pocket/ There’s no change to play your game.” There’s also room via shoehorning for multiple (!) references to the Instagram/Snapchat culture of millennials that make the record feel dated already.
But this is New Found Glory we’re talking about. Their career is based on making dependable music designed to be blasted from a Honda Civic while you’re drunk on nostalgia. In other words, you can imagine what this record sounds like before you hear it and you’re probably close. Makes Me Sick won’t change your opinion of New Found Glory, and it isn’t supposed to. Instead, it’s an enjoyable, if predictable, pop-punk record, and there are worse things an album can be than that.