In 1999, A New Found Glory released Nothing Gold Can Stay, a sappy pop punk album that made me feel the pain of being 17 again. Sure, some of the lyrics were over-dramatic and the vocals were whiny, but the album connected with me even though it was written for kids ten or so years my junior. The point is, A New Found Glory could get away with writing overly sensitive, immature love songs, because they were really good at it, the emo market wasn’t completely flooded and they tapped into something universal. By the time they released their major label debut three years later, they were as stale as the genre.
What does this have to with Verona Grove you might ask? Everything. If pop punk drama queens were done in 2002, what makes Verona Grove think the genre is going anywhere in 2007? The Story Thought Over might as well be the latest A New Found Glory album. They don’t just have similar musical DNA, they’re a clone, made up of the same Crybaby Sally vocals, the same catchy hooks and crunchy (but not too crunchy) sound. True, there are couple places where they try other things, none of them original. They do a few piano ballads and "I Haven’t Got Much (But I’m Getting Somewhere)" actually steals a bit from the generic hard rock of the late 80s as if that needed to be revisited. I had enough of new wave the first time and the revival certainly gives me more than my fill. I definitely didn’t need Verona Grove to give it a shot on "Goodbye Surrender." They try their hand at a power ballad with "Revolution" and have the audacity to sing, "holding out for a revolution." Maybe they should count the number of revolutions started by power ballads. Yeah, that would be zero. So, the few times they stray from aping their principle influence, they choose to play at things long played out.
Verona Grove apparently wrote much of the album while they were transplanted, given an apartment and expected to churn out a big seller. On "Smalltown Celebrity," they sing, "Teenage rockstar, / Only 30 years old. / Where the hell did high school go? / Welcome to the rock show." From another band, I might actually like those lyrics, but not from this band and not under these circumstances. Their mentors made me 17 again when I was 28, because they tapped into something universal. Verona Grove has had an extraordinary year that found them going from the small town to the big city. Instead of tapping into some universal discomfort, they’ve told a story to which no one can relate but them and they’ve told it in a medium that is long past its prime. If you like pop punk and emo, skip The Story Thought Over and pull Nothing Gold Can Stay back off the shelf.