Review: Goldfinger – Never Look Back

This year has been a surprisingly busy one for Goldfinger. During the early days of the pandemic, the band released a series of re-recordings of their favorite hits from separate locations, which became a shockingly well-received reprieve from the dark times of quarantine. Never Look Back, the band’s new album, launches directly from the momentum of those videos, creating a quasi “best of” in terms of sound by incorporating every grand element of the band’s discography into an elegantly written punk rock album. 

You can buy or stream Never Look Back on Apple Music.

Never Look Back feels like a ‘classic’ Goldfinger album as much as it does a modern punk record. Each track sizzles with raging guitar riffs that, more often than not, incorporates ska into most of the album. For an album steeped in the essence of the past, it sounds incredibly fresh in 2020. Comprised of a semi supergroup, Goldfinger simply sound better than they ever have. 

Songwriter and singer John Feldmann sounds incredible, pushing his vocals from chorus to chorus and carrying a melodic monotone through most verses that have helped define the band. MXPX frontman Mike Herrera settles in once again as bassist, shifting from blistering punk tracks and backup singer (“Good Guy”) to smooth ska rhythms (“The Best Life”). Guitarists Philip Sneed and original Goldfinger member Charlie Paulson rage through tracks, crafting some of the best songs in the band’s career (“Cannonball”, “The City”). Drummer Nick Gross keeps percussion running between genres, picking up seamlessly after Travis Barker‘s run on the band’s last album. 

Despite the title, Never Look Back revels in reflection. Sonically, the album reverts to Goldfinger’s early records, reinvigorating the ska elements and leaning heavily into the pop punk elements of more recent albums. Lyrically, the album settles into the tried-and-true concepts of failed relationships and energetically addressing grievances (“Nothing To Me”). Don’t expect Never Look Back to have a message that will make you think too hard. Instead, it will have you fist pumping to elegantly simple choruses primed for swirling mosh pits.

Opening track “Infinite” explores the pull Feldmann feels producing for seemingly every pop punk band in existence balanced against the expectations set on Goldfinger as one of the few remaining genre bands from the late 90’s (“Save yourself from me / Cause I’m about to change, about to break / Cause everybody wants me to be somebody else”). The song also gives Charlie Paulson and Mike Herrera a chance to take lead vocals on a verse each. 

Lead single “Wallflower”, one of the few positive songs on the album, is a reflection on Feldmann’s wife and plays out as a California love story, complete with an extravagant horn section (“It’s only getting better / Since the day I met her, she wears my sweater / In California weather”).

The nostalgic-named “Golden Days” sounds like a Less Than Jake track from the early 2000’s, reflecting on the lost days of youth and looking fearlessly ahead toward lifelong dreams (“Whatever happened to the golden days? / Whatever happened to the plans we made? / Whatever happened to the late night drives, there was nothing to hide”).

Never Look Back is the type of throwback album 2020 was primed for. Bursting with punk energy and the dance ethics of third-wave ska, the album manages to make the listener feel good despite the angry themes found from song to song. Personifying the frustrations of the year through relationships and reflecting on older, enjoyable times, Never Look Back maintains classic sensibilities through a modern lens. Goldfinger sound more energized than ever, and ready to command a thrilling live presence when shows become a thing again.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and still has a pound of gummi bears to eat despite snacking on them all week. Why would he buy this many gummi bears?!

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