Review: New Found Glory – Forever and Ever x Infinity

Forever and Ever x Infinity is the tenth studio album from New Found Glory, arguably the most influential band in all of pop punk. While groups influenced by them have leaned toward creating emotionally resonant art pieces (The Wonder Years) or shifted entirely to the realms of pop (All Time Low), New Found Glory have essentially stayed the course, never varying their sound too much, but always releasing timeless and damn good music. Forever and Ever x Infinity continues this tradition as an album that fully celebrates NFG’s roots while passing along the experience of middle age through the lens of a fairy tale.

Songs on Forever and Ever x Infinity are overly romanticized, sometimes to the point of cringe-y cheesiness. However, that’s the point — these songs reflect the hypnotic ecstasy of falling in love as a teenager (“Greatest of All Time”). It is the first NFG album since their Self-Titled that filled me with the same bouncing passion I had after my first listen to “Hit Or Miss” 20 years ago.

You can buy or stream Forever and Ever x Infinity on Apple Music.

For all of the fans clamoring that NFG’s Self-Titled album is their best, Forever and Ever x Infinity acts in many ways as a reinterpretation of that record. The music leans heavily toward the pop elements of that album, while retaining the easy-core crunch of Resurrection (“Shook By Your Shaved Head”). Similar themes of falling in love, hopeless romanticism and the rage of a broken heart play heavily, resonating as much now as it did 10 albums ago (“The more I get older, the clearer I see / The misconceptions imbedded in me / We can love, we can fail / It never goes out of style”).

Now though, it’s hard to write songs about hopeless romanticism after two decades of experiences, divorce, personal growth and expanding as artists. Instead, New Found Glory lean into the feelings of their early albums, highlighting how magical life felt when you were fifteen and in love (“Birthday Song But Not Really”), only to temper those songs with what you wish you had known at the time by tearing it down with possibly the most poignant and heart wrenching song New Found Glory have ever written (“Slipping Away”).

Forever and Ever x Infinity plays like a fairy tale, with all of the cheese of a Disney romance and the maturity to laugh at their own lyrics. A song like “Double Chin For the Win” is one of the weirdest songs New Found Glory have ever written, but it sums up the emotions of “Sincerely Me” with charm and self-depreciation (“I know I’m not even in your league / Yet still you find something good in me / When we link arms, you’re a ten, I’m a three / Hope you can never afford Lasik surgery”).

The innocent love of “Stay Awhile” and the wedding dance atmosphere of “More and More” play off of the feeling of high school romance and walking the halls with hearts for eyes. However, after more than a dozen songs of this, the fairy tale ends and real life begins with closing track “Slipping Away”. Here, the romance is dying and a new chapter is about to begin as both lovers are forced to confront the fact that they’ve grown apart. “It wasn’t easy, there’s no arguing that / But there was a time you were proud of the deeper understanding we had / Below the surface and again in our history / Now I can see you almost bite your tongue clean off every time you lay eyes on me”.

What must be said though, is that the band still kills it on every level. Vocalist Jordan Pundik’s eternal energy finds him pushing himself with anthemic choruses and biting verses (“Greatest of All Time”). Bassit Ian Grushka provides a solid backbone of sound that expands the profound depth of guitar buzz (“Like I Never Existed”). Meanwhile, drummer Cyrus Bolooki delivers one of his best performances, destroying the kit from snappy beats to intense, hardcore percussion (“Same Side Sitters”). Sole guitarist Chad Gilbert provides one of his best performances yet, making enough noise for two and showing a full range of sound that both resonates with NFG’s legacy of pop and embraces a harder edge that competes with contemporary peers (“Himalaya”).

Not everything on the album swirls around romance — several songs delve into rooting out the poison in toxic friendships, such as the hard-pounding “Nothing To Say” (“Spreading lies like a disease, but you can’t say it to my face / You’ve got nothing to say”), while the exceptionally crafted “Himalaya” examines people who use others for their own benefit (“They don’t want what’s best for you / They just want what works best for them / You spread yourself too thin / I think it’s time you find yourself, find yourself some new friends”).

Forever and Ever x Infinity is a unique album in that it pairs well as a sister to the band’s celebrated Self-Titled album, but lovingly mocks the simplistic ideals presented on an album written when the band members were barely twenty. On the surface, it looks like some of the lyrics are half-assed (“Birthday Song But Not Really”… Yuck), but there is a tongue-in-cheek maturity behind them that doesn’t appear until after the first listen through. After all, how best to learn of the traps of hopeless romanticism than reflecting on your own past and laughing?

4.5/5

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 built a pillow fort for this cat. Now, sadly…. there aren’t enough pillows to make one for himself. “What kind of sick world is THIS?!” he screams at the clouds with a ketchup stain on his shirt.

Reflecting On: I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business

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Ten years ago, I was at the height of my obsession with The Early November. The Room’s Too Cold had come out the previous year, and I told anyone willing to listen why I was obsessed with it. My friends enjoyed the album, but constantly reminded me that emo bands never last. I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business arrived quietly with a self-titled album alarmingly quickly, almost exactly a year after TEN’s debut album. I loved the album by myself since no one I knew would listen to it, and saw it as a wonderful and patchwork contrast to TEN’s sound and themes.

The greatest legacy of Like Nobody’s Business is that it was an oddity for years. Ace Enders’ side project was originally an indie acoustic pop record infused with a wide array of instruments (violin, cello, keyboard, electric guitar, xylophone) and a slight tone of country influence. It was weird, lovely and the perfect counterbalance to the harshness of The Room’s Too Cold by spinning off in the vein of the standout acoustic tracks from that album.

But Enders didn’t return to ICMAM for a long time, leaving it as a one off album. TEN’s follow up The Mother, The Mechanic, & The Path used a lot of the influences from ICMAM (LONG NAMES BE DAMNED!) for The Mother disc. The most obvious of these influences being the ambient country influences for songs like “Driving South” and “From Here to L.A.”, most notably Bill Lugg’s sexy slide guitar originally from “The Best Happiness Money Can Buy” on ICMAMLNB.

Beyond that though, I Can Make a Mess weren’t heard of again for the most part as Enders took up another solo project under the banner of Ace Enders and a Million Different People, with a select couple of ICMAM songs played at live shows.

I fell in love with The Early November because of the harshness of the lyricism coupled with the underproduction and ragged songwriting that somehow worked between genres of both hard rock and acoustic ballads. I Can Make a Mess was not even just the opposite of that, it was ironically kind of a mess. The entire disc was acoustic focused, and much quieter, but interjected with two ‘rock’ songs (I still don’t know what to label them as) that utterly ruined the flow.

It’s not even that they’re bad songs, but it destroyed the theme of the album as well as the concept, and cut the record into parts. “Untitled Track 2” is a hellish rock song led by a sizzling electric guitar that cuts the surreal and dreamlike acoustic ballads in two; poppier songs on the first half and softer ballads on the second.

Then there was the background noise; eleven songs worth of what sound like random television and movie scenes running constantly under the music. On paper, this is an annoying idea but in practice, it’s intriguing. The sounds provide a minimal bass layer beneath the music that allows itself to be heard during the quietest moments before finally fading out during the aptly titled “End of the Background Noise”. It’s a distraction that doesn’t take away from the music, instead it melds the songs together which is one of the things Enders likes to do (The Room’s Too Cold, Dustin’ Off the Ol Guitar).

Enders’ lyrics have always intrigued me. The Early November tend to run to the center of emotions, cutting through the fat and hitting the heart of the matter. In recent years, I Can Make a Mess has reflected this basis as well, but not nearly as much. ICMAM is the outlet without parameters and ICMAMLNB is probably the best reflector of this.

The first half of the record is almost mystical. “So I Finally Decided to Give Myself a Reason” is the most dreamlike. It’s a surreal conversation with coming to terms with past mistakes amidst a chorus of “So tonight as I walk the moon makes faces at the trees / It’s so nice to make fun of everything that I lost, and I miss, and I love but never had”.

The most iconic song is “The Best Happiness Money Can Buy”, a ripe country flavored song complete with a “yeehaw” and slide guitar. It’s also the start of ICMAM’s recurring theme of money and inspiration as Enders sings, “So follow that tune / Quickly or you’ll lose the melody you never heard / When you were young you didn’t care / It’s the one that stole your father’s pride / That mighty mighty dollar sign”.

The second half of the album is slightly less romantic and a more straightforward with the themes of coming to terms with yourself. “I Know the Sum and Substance of My Evil” is one of the more telling songs as it pulls everything together in a self-evaluation that is so straightforward that it beckons reminders of TEN. “We all knew this day was coming / Our bitter hears can hear it calling / So proud of what you’ve done, so proud of who you are / Standing tall next to all the buildings and filling up with all the reasons why you should never trust yourself / The way you fool yourself… I’m fooled”.

I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business is a patchwork still in progress, not quite ready to know what it wanted to be. It’d be six years before further ICMAM albums would help put this one in perspective. It’s a great release from Enders, but somewhat pieced together and cut in weird sections.

At the time, it almost felt like a secret in the music community since absolutely no one would listen to it with me. It was an oddity of experimentation and honesty that helped launch Ace’s other solo project and influence later TEN records while maintaining a spirit all its own. It was the first time I knew that Ace Enders had the skills as a songwriter to not fade away with all of those other ’emo’ musicians and made me proud to bother people with how much I adore his music.

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 apparently likes to write about Ace Enders in embarrassing amounts of detail, enough to tag his other two articles in this one. Ugh. The Early November is one of the few bands whose albums have never left his rotation ever since he first heard them in 2002.

Blink-182’s self-titled album turns 10

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As hard as it is to believe, today is the 10th anniversary of blink-182’s self-titled album. Amongst a large collection of classic records turning ten years old this year, the album is a classic in the pop-punk scene and is considered by many to be the band’s best work. What are your thoughts?

Share your memories of the album and favorite songs in the replies. Also, don’t forget to take a listen to our recent podcast in which we discuss many of the classic albums turning ten this year.