Bayside - Cult
Release Date: February 18, 2014
Record Label: Hopeless
"Cult" has been synonymous with Bayside ever since the band released its debut album, Sirens and Condolences, ten years ago. Five albums later and Cult is now the title of the band's sixth studio album (and debut for Hopeless Records). So why now? According to frontman Anthony Raneri, Cult takes and expands on ideas and compositions from the band's entire discography - that Cult is essential Bayside. And it's hard to argue with that statement, as Cult unleashes some of the band's tastiest riffs and strongest songs yet while broadening Bayside's musical palate.
As is Bayside tradition, the record starts off with the thrilling "Big Cheese," as booming drums lead to Raneri pleading, I love to be wanted/but all I want is to be loved and a mesmerizing guitar solo from Jack O'Shea. It sets the tone for Cult, which is packed with plenty of aggressive anthems with tantalizing hooks ("Time Has Come" and "Hate Me"). The guitar interplay between Raneri and O'Shea has been integral to every Bayside release and it's no different here. "You're No Match" features some very luscious licks while "Bear With Me" is stuffed with frenzied guitar action, with both songs soaked in memorable melodies.
And while a lot of Cult is classic Bayside, the Long Island quartet throw a few curves every now and then. "Transitive Property" is a career highlight as Raneri goes into full love song/ballad mode lyrically and vocally. Sprawling guitar chords woven between the vocalist's tender delivery lend some of the record's rawest moments. In fact, Raneri's lyrics have never been more personal. Throughout Cult you'll hear him summing up and examining his legacy and his place in this world. The explosive "Stuttering" is a meta take on what record execs expect from Bayside, with Raneri biting back with barbs like Cause I'm the voice of the depressed/and that's what everyone expects and Patience don't pay, get my nose back in the books/So I can keep on making cash for heartless fucking crooks. Raneri counters that with "Bear With Me" (I am a dying breed/But I'm twice the man I used to be) and the mid-tempo rocker "Objectivist on Fire" (I can never say I'm truly free/If I keep replacing I with we/Cause no one cares as much as me/No one cares for me but me), while the breezy pop-punk vibe of "Something's Wrong" is juxtaposed against Raneri calling himself and his generation out.
The band's self-awareness on Cult is something that comes with being a band for as long as they've been and going through some of the things they have. It's that same self-awareness that allows Raneri to hope towards the end of "Big Cheese" that we were more than just a fad - and then go on to prove Bayside is anything but throughout Cult. LP6 finishes with one final highlight, as "The Whitest Lie" concludes with Raneri's most poignant line, wondering "where I'd end up if nobody was listening" before launching into chilling group vocals.
Over the last ten years, what I've always appreciated the most about Bayside is the band always being honest and transparent with its fans. Bayside isn't the type of rock band to release a compilation of greatest hits, so Cult is the closest fans will get to an essential, all-encompassing collection. Cult the successful showcase of the band's fresh start with Hopeless after an up-and-down tenure with Wind-Up - a reminder that Bayside is stronger than ever.
Very good album. I think I think that Killing Time has the edge, but I still really like this one too. I'd give it an 8/10. I think Stuttering is my favorite track on Cult if only for that standout line "Who do I think I'm kidding / Like I'm Robert Fuckin Smith..."
The only minor gripe I take is with naming Transitive Property as "full ballad." I feel like "On Love, On Life" off of Killing Time was more ballady, at least in the typical sense.
But nice review, a pleasure to read, and a pleasure to listen to this album.
I don't know how I feel about this record yet. Sometimes I wish this band would take a few more chances musically, but when they do those songs tend to be the ones I skip over. There's some great song here, but there's also some clunkers. I think "The Whitest Lie" might be one of my least favorite Bayside songs to date. The group vocals at the end don't give me chills, they just make me want to turn it off and listen to "Dear Tragedy". On the other hand, this is still a better album than pretty much every band on this website will release this year.
Nice review- I like this record quite a bit. The songs are darker, the themes deeper and sonically speaking, it's certainly more varied. Reminds me of Shudder a lot (which is a good thing). My biggest complaint is that while Bayside is consistently good, they're fairly formulaic ("Time Has Come" is ridiculously boring).