Taking Back Sunday - Where You Want To Be
Record Label: Victory Records
Release Date: July 27, 2004
Given that Taking Back Sunday have just released their new "comeback" album, I decided to peruse their back catalogue and take in everything that has been tagged as "Taking Back Sunday". After searching through the doldrums of AP.NET reviews, I noticed that Where You Want To Be had never been reviewed. Where You Want To Be is considered by many as the runt of the TBS litter -- the second son, marriage No. 2, “Empire Strikes Sunday". But in reality, this marked a new beginning for Taking Back Sunday. Where You Want To Be is the first post-Tell All Your Friends record released after the departures of guitarist/vocalist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper. While many cried foul and dubbed their continuance an abomination of nature, Taking Back Sunday 2.0 was born. Having been seven years since the album’s release, the record has had enough time to stand on its own and be judged fairly. This is where we act like adults. Deep breaths…
Where You Want To Be erupts with the infectious guitar fade in “Set Phasers To Stun” and within five seconds, you’re hooked. Shortly after Adam Lazzara makes his first post Tell All Your Friends statement: "Say yes, say yes, say yes", repeatedly. Statement? Request? Or a Freudian slip? Or maybe just the simple request of Adam Lazzara wanting to build a new foundation on a note of optimism. As the song continues and the chorus explodes to the point of “It’s Where You Want To Be,” one thing is immediately clear: Taking Back Sunday has changed for the better. “Bonus Mosh Pt. II” sees the full debut of Adam Lazzara and Fred Mascherino’s dueling vocals, making it apparent that lightning has indeed struck twice. Next is the record’s first single, “A Decade Under The Influence,” which displays just a taste of what Lazzara/Mascherino are capable of. Three songs in, and Fred Mascherino has more than succeeded John Nolan; he’s raised the bar.
“This Photograph Is Proof,” the bands second powerhouse single, further demonstrates that Taking Back Sunday have gone bigger this time around (being featured on the Spider-Man 2 soundtrack didn’t hurt either). With “The Union,” fans get a little familiarity. The track is somewhat TAYF-esque and one of my gripes with the record. The song does shine as it opens with new bassist Matt Rubano and drummer Mark O’Connell showing their newfound rhythmic camaraderie. Simply put: It’s awesome. Approaching the halfway marker is the appropriately titled “New American Classic". Point blank, the song is beautiful from start to finish. If there was ever a doubt in the listener’s mind about Taking Back Sunday’s decision to soldier on without Nolan and Cooper, it ended here. The depth of emotion in this song -- the undeniable earnest feeling of Lazzaras and Mascherinos voices -- is remarkable.
“I Am Fred Astaire” and “One-Eighty By Summer” are both further examples of the new Taking Back Sunday: massive choruses, better arrangements, top notch musicianship, modern rock gold. These two songs take notice that everyone in Taking Back Sunday has upped their game. Nearing the end of Where You Want To Be is the instant TBS classic “Number Five With A Bullet". Somewhat cheesy at times, the song is a bit of a throwback but still enjoyable. Of the last two songs on Where You Want To Be, my personal favorite is “Little Devotional". Matt Rubano and Mark O’Connell begin this song with such an epic march, it’s chilling. Furthering the songs prowess are the dual guitars of Fred Mascherino and Eddie Reyes. Adam Lazzara provides one of his more heartfelt performances on the record, and it’s perhaps the most evolutionary track on the record. This song sees Taking Back Sunday becoming a full-fledged modern rock band. Closing out the record is “…Slowdance On The Inside,” and if you aren’t touched in some way by hearing this song, then you might just be a robot.
Where You Want To Be is incredible, and Taking Back Sunday more than needed to make this record. Tell All Your Friends was so loved and so revered that, when the less-than-amicable circumstances occurred that paved the way for this record happened, many were more than skeptical. Sometimes change is necessary. In the case of Taking Back Sunday, it was a must. Where You Want To Be is change. It’s not the same old peanut butter sandwich that your Mom made you before without the crust. This is a man sandwich; a part of growing up is accepting change. Eat your crust, and in the case of this record, I want to grow old with it…perhaps marry it someday.