Taking Back Sunday - Taking Back Sunday Record Label: Warner Bros.
Release Date: July 28th, 2011
“Sometimes it takes some time to remember where you were headed in the first place and the people you intended to go there with. There’s no hard feelings, just the future.” This was Taking Back Sunday’s central philosophy as they began work on their fifth record, and second with seven year absentees John Nolan and Shaun Cooper. Armed with the fivesome that created the beloved underground classic Tell All Your Friends and a new, positive mindset, the band wholeheartedly succeeded in creating an album that surpasses its disappointing predecessor New Again by a mile (though I stand by my statement that that album does not suck).
It was obvious from the get-go that expecting an album similar to Tell All Your Friends would only produce disappointment similar to that which Slater would receive when Kelly chose to go to the prom with Zack over him. And that is true: there is nothing here that mirrors the vicious and immature resentment found on their debut. However, the energy that caused that anger to resonate so well with listeners is still present, and what else could one really ask for? Opener “El Paso” shatters any preconceptions (good or bad) as the hardest rock song that the band has ever produced. It’s both surprising and pleasing to see a band stretch their limits like this, and frontman Adam Lazzara’s sore throated screams have never sounded better. “Call Me In The Morning” is a definite goosebumb-ballad-closer that will have fans’ hearts fluttering forever, especially during Lazzara’s voice cracks during the last chorus and guitarist/vocalist Nolan’s shouting as the song winds down. Bassist Cooper shines during Frans Ferdinand-esque “Money (Let It Go).” “This Is All Now” and "You Got Me" are definitely lyrical highlights, showing the band’s maturation with very grown-up and brutally honest questions of faith (“lead by example, could you imagine Christ hitting a child?”) and responsibility ("who's to say you'd do it alone?").
While I don’t think that there is a bad song on Taking Back Sunday, I do question some of the band's choices. For one, the mid-tempo “Sad Savior” is placed much too early in the album, not really fitting in between faster numbers "Best Places To Be A Mom" and "Who Are You Anyway?." The verses in “Faith” are repetitive and cheesy, in contrast to the powerful chorus. Also, I find Valentine’s production to be overbearing at times, especially evident on Mark O’Connell’s drums, which sometimes sound too.... soft. Nolan could be featured more vocals-wise, and Lazzara’s voice still sounds strained (although it has shown improvement). And, as a warning, those who are expecting an abundance of the vocal battling the two singers had on Tell All Your Friends will be a little let down, save for "Who Are You Anyway?" (a personal favorite) and "It Doesn't Feel A Thing Like Falling." These gripes are minor though, and the good outweighs the bad by far.
Am I disappointed? Not at all. This album delivers the Taking Back Sunday core with drastic improvements. Of course, as a seventeen year old, I can relate to nothing as well as the angst filled and frustrated Tell All Your Friends. However, I think it can be said that Taking Back Sunday is a great achievement by a band that is far more responsible and talented than they were nine years ago. The album will only get better as we mature, just as the people who created it have.
There seems to be a polarizing opinion on the album. I tried my hardest to make this review reflect the way I feel about it. I am a fan, as you can see by the 9 under reviewer tilt, but that doesn't mean that the album has changed everything about music. I really like it, but I can always see room for improvement. I can't really speak for an older person because I am not one, but the album struck me as one that would relate to a person who is finding themselves in the world of work or family-hood for the first time and is trying to figure out how exactly they fit in with that scene. That is why I thought it would relate to older people.
The album just feels very cluttered. There really isn't a consistent sound that the band achieves throughout the whole thing. I loved the direction they were headed in the opener. El Paso is an awesome track and a great opener, but doesn't give you a feel of the album at all. In fact, i'd say El Paso gives you the exact opposite feel that the rest of the album will give you. I must say though that "This Is All Now" is classic TBS.