There isn't much difference between Sticks and Stones
and New Found Glory
's prior, self-titled MCA effort. It's highly accomplished, energetic punk-pop, the harmonies radiating youthful cheer, Jordan Pundik
's lead vocals adding a tinge of youthful defiance and vulnerability. It's much more upbeat, for instance, than the opening lines of the opening cut, "Understatement," might portend: "I'm sick of smiling, and so is my jaw." Could it be that they're tiring of their usual upbeat demeanor and slyly slipping in a subversive message there? Not likely -- most of these are still upbeat if ambivalent songs about tense relationship growing pains and breakups, though sometimes colored with the wider territory of finding inner strength, dealing with loss, and coming out of rough experiences for the better. It's more engaging than exciting, and though it sounds pretty radio-ready in the better sense of that term, it does start to blur together over a full-length hearing.