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Taking Back Sunday - New Again Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9.25
Musicianship 9.75
Lyrics 9.5
Production 9
Creativity 8.75
Lasting Value 9.75
Reviewer Tilt 10
Final Verdict: 94%
Member Ratings
Vocals 6.26
Musicianship 6.21
Lyrics 5.99
Production 6.44
Creativity 5.91
Lasting Value 5.83
Reviewer Tilt 5.87
Average: 61%
Inside AP.net

Taking Back Sunday - New Again

Reviewed by: Noah Fawkes (08/12/09)
Taking Back SundayNew Again
Record Label: Warner Bros.
Release Date: June 2, 2009


"My dear what long arms you have." "All the better to hold you down." The Little Red Riding Hood fairytale-inspired first lines of New Again, Taking Back Sunday's fourth record, hold more meaning than some might think. It could be looked at as just a reference to a former lover, and well, maybe it is about a former lover, but that could be applied on a deeper level too. Maybe the first lines Adam Lazzara sang are aimed toward the scene where they came from, with its long talons that are all the better to hold you down. And it makes sense. Especially if you're in a band that most of the scenesters consider their first record as part of something so special and unique, something they could never live up to, since Tell All Your Friends occupies such a special place in the hearts of the most of people of this community. So let's get this right off the bat: New Again isn't for everyone, and its themes are quite the opposite of Tell All Your Friends. Why is TAYF so easy to relate to? It's easy to understand that. Besides being an amazing record, it's filled with high school drama about breakups and heartache. This is something the quiet and insecure kid that never scores to the toughest punk or the hottest girl in town can relate to. The fact that it's an album filled with clever, beautifully crafted lyrics helps, but the themes of the first record have an universal appeal. New Again is a different kind of beast.

Adam Lazzara isn't the guy who would bleed himself to death and still say that he is sorry for having tainted a girl's tee anymore. Man, that was ages ago. And New Again really shows that. He's a man now. And he isn't exactly the kind of man who will be dumped and write a record about it anymore either; he's the bastard. He's the one in command of his life. He's in charge, not only taking front on the vocal duties, but in his own life. And he really doesn't seem very worried about what any of his former lovers –- ex-girlfriends, ex-band members and rabid Tell All Your Friends lovers alike -- will think of him. It's the hardest thing to relate to most of people who fell in love with them in the past, since most of the scenesters will dedicate hours of their lives looking for the next perfect heartache song and blog about it, in a pathetic attempt of bringing back their former lovers. In life, you'll find people who will bring heartache and others who will be heartbroken. Most of the cases this work both ways, but there're some people that always will be dumped, always will be feeling sorry for themselves because that girl or boy didn't care enough about them the way they think they should. And then there're the kind of people that are just boringly perfect; they'd never cheat, they'd never do drugs, they'd never take a walk on the wild side, the flesh and blood incarnation of the holy and righteous Ned Flanders. These groups of people will feel alienated by Lazzara's songwriting on New Again. He'll look more like the menacing ex-boyfriend/boyfriend that haunts their relationships, or lack of one besides music and platonic love.

After two successful albums with Fred Mascherino and Matt Rubano replacing John Nolan and Shaun Cooper on guitar/vocals and bass, respectively, a new change on the line-up ensues. Mascherino left the band allegedly for creative differences and went solo on his project called The Color Fred. What at first seemed an amicable break up turned into a new found feud. After months of uncertainty, enter on stage the math rock axeman Matt Fazzi to replace Mascherino in his vocal and guitar duties. And with Fazzi, a promise of coming back to their roots, with an album that encapsulates the energy of their first record. And they delivered a record filled with rage, guilt, luxury and a redeeming and urgent feeling of taking control of their own lives. Like a lover that can't take any more of his/her girlfriend/boyfriend, like a band that had enough of his old fans telling how they should sound and act. It may break some people's hearts, but the best analogy to Taking Back Sunday at the moment is the boyfriend that had enough. They cheated on you, they have broken your hearts, Adam broke hearts. Some will conveniently quote Tell All Your Friends like a southern ex-girlfriend quotes the Bible, and just like her, don’t have any sense to tie their tangled tongues, and instead, they'll slash it through the mud. It's a record similar to Tell All Your Friends, in the sense that it's filled with drama and passion, and just like a boyfriend that is so sick of hearing his significant other complaining all the time, they kept their promise, but not in the way some would expect. It's a personal record, so personal that it wouldn't make sense if the dueling vocals were present just like in the past on this one. Lazzara faced his demons and showed off his salt-licked wounds, merely bruised like a badge of honor. Even though sometimes it's forgotten, heartbreakers do have feelings, and they want to change for the better, they want to get out of that path of destruction because that makes them miserable too, and they want a chance of feeling new again. This album isn't for people that can’t relate to these feelings. It's a redeeming ode to the bastard inside all of us. It's about dealing with your guilt, insecurities, longing and living up to the expectations that are placed on your shoulders, and coming out of it stronger and ready to say that it's all good.

The musicianship on the album is top notch, leaps and bounds better than anything they've done in the past. It's arguably their heaviest record, with Eddie Reyes’s riffs soaring mean and fast, remembering more his hardcore days with The Movielife than any of Taking Back Sunday's previous records, allied that with all the technique learned with the pass of the years. Matt Rubano's bass lines show how much of a bassist he is, complementing perfectly Mark O'Connel, whose tight and precise drums are definitely one of the highlights of the record. The addition of Matt Fazzi to the rhythm guitar probably plays a big part on adding so much detail to their sound, since he is known for his math rock background in his previous band, Facing New York. Although Fazzi's backup vocals take a backseat on this one, influenced by the producer David Kahne (Regina Spektor, The Strokes), it proves to be a wise decision having in mind that the lyrics are mostly about things Lazzara went through.

Nothing of this would work, however, if the once patron saint of the heartbreakers and now respectable married man with a child didn't deliver. It's a proven fact that Lazzara is at his best when he's pissed, and may God have mercy for the souls that he took a bite of on this. Lazzara's wild card has always been wearing his heart on his sleeve, and this time, he’s not holding back. From snarky jabs toward Fred Mascherino in “Summer, Man” (“Cause I ain't working for you anymore / No I ain't working for you anymore / So go prove to the world what you already proved / That you just couldn't do on your own”) and “Capital M-E” (“The nicest man I ever met was more malicious than malcontent / Yeah he taught me how to hold my tongue and wait to strike till their backs were turned”) to gloriously angry and almost sexual bites in “Lonely, Lonely” (“See I ain't the boy that she loves the most / I'm just enough to fill the void her daddy left / Lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely / Don't you go changing for me / (She said) 'Do you wanna get me high?'”) and “Cut Me Up Jenny” (“And though you didn't have to leave the way you did / I've been watching you / I've been watching you / Most times you never knew / You are Sunday afternoon with nothing to do / You are Manhattan in June / As the population's wearing next to nothing”).

One of the steps on the road to recovery is making amends with the past and with himself, Lazzara deals with his own demons in a heartfelt beautifully crafted confession in “Where My Mouth Is” (“And now I'm staring at the floor / Where my second life just ended / Where I lost not one but two friends”). These lines may not seem that cryptic, but there’s a nod to something only some hardcore followers of the band will get.

Lazzara is a skilled songwriter with a unique vocal style, but that's what he was all about, until New Again. Maybe because he's taking the front and center at this time, but for the first time since Tell All Your Friends, he is actually showing glimpses of real evolution with his vocal skills. It isn't about just screaming anymore, he has mastered in his own style, but when screams are needed, like in “Catholic Knees”, he shows that he still can do it, and does it better and more fiercely than ever.

Even though “New Again”, “Sink Into Me” and “Swing” have a big case of being the most catchiest tunes in Taking Back Sunday entire career, it's when Lazzara exposes his heart's scars that this record kicks out of the park. “Carpathia” (“I was a tower and you were an airplane / We happened before we knew what was happening”) is the name of the boat that rescued the survivors of the almighty (and drowned) Titanic, and its the name of one of the strongest songs about real separation that I've heard in my entire life. It's human; it's the perspective of the person that provoked the break up, and it's a relatable track for people that already had to take hard decisions. These last two tracks recall, in tone, Tim Kasher's first solo album, The Good Life's Novena on a Nocturn. And then we have the album's closer, “Everything Must Go.” It's epic. It's so haunting that even after several repeats, it still gives you the shivers and not enough words on any review will be capable of explain what this final track is. But like Frank Zappa once said, “talking about music is like dancing about architecture”.

As I said at the beginning, this record may not appeal to a part of their fanbase, used to a Taking Back Sunday that would be stuck in the past without taking their chances creating something new. It's about people who have committed mistakes. It's about a band that don’t let the others decide how they should sound and act. It’s about how their frontman decided to take back the control of his life and how this reflected in the band doing the same. It's summer, man. Is there a better season to start again than this one? They've broken up with the past and are living in the present. If ex-girlfriends, ex-band members and, well, ex-fans can't take it, there's nothing stopping them now.

Track Listing1. New Again
2. Sink Into Me
3. Lonely, Lonely
4. Summer, Man
5. Swing
6. Where My Mouth Is
7. Cut Me Up Jenny
8. Catholic Knees
9. Capital M-E
10. Carpathia
11. Everything Must Go


Taking Back Sunday is
Adam Lazzara
Matthew Fazzi
Matthew Rubano
Eddie Reyes
Mark O'Connell


Recommended If You LikeAlternative Rock; Cursive – Domestica; The Good Life – Novena on a Nocturn; Circa Survive – Juturna; Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago; The Movielife – This Time Next Year; People that have lived with someone or in a fucked up relationship and had to take hard decisions.


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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 317
05:11 PM on 08/24/09
#2
Dymytry Vance
Fuck Relient K!
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Hello long motherfucking review I won't read because I will blow up because I will disagree with it so much.
05:50 PM on 08/24/09
#3
anamericangod
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Decently written review even though it is unnecessarily wordy in quite a few spots, the fact that I completely disagree with nearly everything said, with some of it being borderline offensive.
05:50 PM on 08/24/09
#4
vivatoto56
EB was left out
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awful, awful review
06:47 PM on 08/24/09
#5
MSIndulgence
www.signaturemistakes.com
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tl;dr
07:10 PM on 08/24/09
#6
snoboardnfreek
rockin' out
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great review man
07:43 PM on 08/24/09
#7
raptorz44
One Who Gets Away/NJ Success Story
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nicely written i guess, but lol at what you say.
07:51 PM on 08/24/09
#8
FullCollaspe
.,
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That RIYL doesn't make sense. Bon Iver?
07:56 PM on 08/24/09
#9
tommy's ghost
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... Domestica?

No.
07:57 PM on 08/24/09
The Personist
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This is so overly long it hurts. You also don't seem to have any sense of what RIYL actually means, since you cited what seem to be some of the most random albums possible, using Cursive and Bon Iver to make indie kids be like "whoa" and pay attention to this whole lotta nothing.

Being concise is part of good writing. Also, it helps when you don't say stupid things...like that this CD is good.
08:02 PM on 08/24/09
fly_guy
End in sight, we must fight
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Its like you gave Adam a 1900 word blow job
08:03 PM on 08/24/09
Noah Fawkes
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That RIYL doesn't make sense. Bon Iver?
I guess it isn't clear enough. But allow me to explain: all these records besides The Movielife's This Time Next Year deal with the theme of break up in one level or another. It's more about the mood that I get from these records compared with New Again than anything else.

What TBS accomplished with New Again - at least in my eyes - were to write a record from the perspective of the person that had to take the harder decisions. And that's not something you see oftenly among the bands in our little scene. While TAYF was about dealing with your own broken heart and post-adolescent drama, NA is more about the next level. It's about having to deal and redeem yourself from the guilt you feel about your actions, one of the many things that makes this record special to me. But I guess this part was explained enough on the review.


Read the review. Understand the two records. Then you'll get what I mean.


This is so overly long it hurts. You also don't seem to have any sense of what RIYL actually means, since you cited what seem to be some of the most random albums possible, using Cursive and Bon Iver to make indie kids be like "whoa" and pay attention to this whole lotta nothing.

Being concise is part of good writing. Also, it helps when you don't say stupid things...like that this CD is good.

No it isn't to impress anyone. And your welcome to share whatever you think about my review, RIYL or the record, what I had to say about it is stated very clearly on the review.
08:05 PM on 08/24/09
The Personist
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I guess it isn't clear enough. But allow me to explain: all these records besides The Movielife's This Time Next Year deal with the theme of break up in one level or another. It's more about the mood that I get from these records compared with New Again than anything else.

What TBS accomplished with New Again - at least in my eyes - were to write a record from the perspective of the person that had to take the harder decisions. And that's not something you see oftenly among the bands in our little scene. While TAYF was about dealing with your own broken heart and post-adolescent drama, NA is more about the next level. It's about having to deal and redeem yourself from the guilt you feel about your actions, one of the many things that makes this record special to me. But I guess this part was explained enough on the review.
So basically, you wrote the review without listening to the album?
08:06 PM on 08/24/09
tommy's ghost
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It's about breaking up with a girl and making money out of it.
08:11 PM on 08/24/09
Noah Fawkes
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So basically, you wrote the review without listening to the album?
I listen to this record at least once a day since it was released. And I've listened a lot of the record before writing this, actually.

It's about breaking up with a girl and making money out of it.

Domestica and New Again? Yes. But I guess it's clear that it goes through growing up after that, too.
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