Any band or artist longing for career longevity will, at one point, take at least a small amount of risk with a particular collection of songs, thus creating what is known as the “self-titled” phenomenon. This phenomenon is generally accompanied by a drastic reinvention of image, an obvious shift in tone when speaking about the power of their music, and, for lazier artists, constant reiteration of the word “mature.” The collection of songs is usually deemed “Self-titled” or “Untitled,” and careers go one of two ways ““critics and fans hope aboard for the ride, and the artist continues down a new path; or, the album flops commercially and critically, concert attendance dwindles, and the fans remaining constantly reminisce about the “good old days” of their former favorite. With 2006’s Coming Home (Geffen/Suretone Records), New Found Glory fell somewhere in the middle of this cruel dichotomy. Familiar with selling a good amount of records (since their inception in 1997, the band has sold more than two million albums), the weak Billboard 200 chart debut of Coming Home at Number 19 halted most press of the release, even limiting the album to one official single (“It’s Not Your Fault”). The band continued to tour (extensively and successfully), eventually making an obvious attempt at strictly pleasing their fans with 2007’s From the Screen to Your Stereo, Part II, a collection of cover songs chosen by fans themselves. Coming Home sadly faded into casualty status quickly and quietly, despite the promising new direction presented with the band’s new image and love-themed songs ready for radio, smartly standing alone beside NFG’s older, more “punk-centric” material. With the Tip of the Iceberg EP (Bridge 9 Records), New Found Glory is blatantly taking a few brief steps back, though hopefully only nodding at their past with storied experience, and not living in it.
The presence of notably heavier, hardcore-inspired guitars and a quicker pace overall (the EP clocks in at around 12 minutes total) on each of these six songs shouldn’t surprise any true fan of the band, as guitarist and unofficial spokesman Chad Gilbert was properly baptized in the waters of such music with his original role as vocalist in Shai Hulud. The three originals here (“Dig My Own Grave,” “If You Don’t Love Me,” and the tightly arranged title track) seem to speak directly of Gilbert’s recent split from Sherri DuPree (of pop darlings Eisley), after being married for less than a year. The refreshingly optimistic tones of peace and love (not the hippie kind) that helped fill the canvas on Coming Home with some fresh ideas are noticeably absent here, but the lyrical direction isn’t entirely negative or even unwelcome. The remaining tracks, all covers, are mostly faithful to the originals (Lifetime’s “Cut the Tension”, Shelter’s “Here We Go Again”, Gorilla Biscuits’ “No Reason Why”), with “No Reason Why” immediately taking stance as the strongest of the three. The EP seems to be over before it really begins, allowing little time to breathe between tracks; something that works very well for the overall presentation of this side of New Found Glory.
The solid Tip of the Iceberg appears to be a quick, fun dabble in the sandbox for New Found Glory; perhaps still simply enjoying their “free agents” status a bit after their split from longtime label Geffen in 2007. However, the band would do well to wisely leave the sandbox for their next full-length record, reportedly due later this year. The progressive territory covered and claimed on Coming Home shouldn’t go forgotten by Gilbert and the rest of the band, as the further you step backwards in your career, the closer you come to eventually colliding with yourself. Regardless, New Found Glory has managed to survive the “Untitled” phenomena with little more than a few bruises and a couple stitches. The doctors are through; it’s up to New Found Glory to get back Home.
1. Tip Of The Iceberg
2. Dig My Own Grave
3. If You Don’t Love Me
4. No Reason Why (Gorilla Biscuits Cover)
5. Here We Go Again (Shelter Cover)
6. Cut The Tension (Lifetime Cover)