Goldfinger – Never Look Back
Released: December 4, 2020
John Feldmann | Guitar & Vocals
Mike Herrera | Bass & Vocals
Charlie Paulson| Guitar & Vocals
Philip Sneed | Guitar & Vocals
Travis Barker | Drums
Like the rest of us, Ska-Punk legends Goldfinger have had their life come to a screaming halt, throwing into chaos a regular touring schedule that’s seen them become a crowd favourite among punk fans. Rather than hang about waiting for normality to return, John Feldmann and crew have instead kept Goldfinger fans entertained with a series of quarantine performances on YouTube, with each member filming their parts from their corner of the world.
And then, just a few weeks ago, we got a surprise announcement – the band had completed their tenth studio album and were releasing it just in time for Christmas. And with the band’s original guitarist Charlie Paulson back on board, along with contributions from pop punk royalty Mike Herrera and drummer Travis Barker, Never Look Back is a stellar album with top-notch performances from all involved.
Opening track ‘Infinite’ sets up the tone of the album with a pure punk vibe that is both vintage Goldfinger yet is laden with the markings of a band that has grown into a tight musical machine. While John Feldmann is the main vocalist for the album, he plays vocal tag with Herrera throughout, with the occasional tap in from Paulson for a line or two. ‘The City’ is the first of many Ska-punk bangers, with horn contributions from Reel Big Fish’s Matt Appleton, and the Ska goodness continues of the lead single ‘Wallflower’, a tribute to Feldmann’s significant other post-marriage.
The upbeat tropical vibe of ‘California On My Mind’ makes the song a perfect companion to a LA beach trip (or if you’re in Sydney a run to Bondi) with its pure Ska signature and Feldmann’s ‘I wanna feel the sand between my toes/imagine how far the water goes’ – if only commercial radio embraced this band a bit, they’d have their summer theme sorted.
‘Nothing To Me’ and ‘Good Guy’ take us back to the punk rock for a while, with some sleek production on some epic choruses, and allows the skills of Travis Barker to shine through on some skin pounding. A more reggae style graces ‘The Best Life’ with a hook that, if the album so far hasn’t given you a lift, will break you out into a smile while you sing along with some drinking mates (socially distanced, obviously.)
Goldfinger venture into pop punk territory with the polish of ‘Careful What You Wish For’, featuring Monique Powell from Save Ferris, who compliments the song with a sleek commercial polish that makes the song ripe for a hit in the pop punk world. With a rocker of a guitar lead, ‘Cannonball’ does its job in keeping the party going with a big chorus to mosh along to, before rollicking back to Ska-laden ‘Golden Days’, a song that drives home an anticipation of seeing this fracking awesome band in a live environment once again at some point soon.
The lyrics of ‘Dumb’ seem just that (Everyone else is dumb/except you/you make my heart go boom,) but are presented by Feldmann in a way that’s funny, endearing and will have you singing along without irony. The closing track, ‘Standing On The Beach’, is a cool little nod to The Cure with a slight 80s rock vibe, and fades the album out to leave you with a positive afterglow, and wanting to hear the whole album again almost immediately.
Honestly, after a brutal year Never Look Back has been a warm surprise from one of my favourite bands of late, and after a few repeated listens I think Goldfinger have shown excellent timing with one of the standout releases of 2020. With the calibre of talent assembled for this record, you’d be nuts not to at least give one listen to an album that’s guaranteed to uplift all of us folk still trying to comprehend what the hell is going on at the moment.
Goldfinger – Never Look Back tracklisting:
2. The City
4. California On My Mind
5. Nothing To Me
6. Good Guy
7. The Best Life
8. Careful What You Wish For
10. Golden Days
12. Standing On The Beach