Taking Back Sunday took the alternative/punk rock scene by storm with their exceptional debut Tell All Your Friends and worthy successor Where You Want To Be thanks to a heavy use of power chord-laden guitar riffs, sensationally appealing lyrics and frontman Adam Lazzara’s magnificently diverse vocals. With the band’s third album, Taking Back Sunday moves a bit further away from the gritty punk of the past and further into alternative rock territory. The lyrics are a little more mature, Lazzara’s vocal range expands even further and a few fantastic hits propel Louder Now past anything the band has produced aside from that untouchable debut. Although this more mainstream approach was frowned upon by some, Taking Back Sunday is at full strength with Mark O’Connell’s airy drumming, buzzing and whining electric guitar riffs from Fred Mascherino and Eddie Reyes and, of course, Lazarra’s defining vocals. Ultimately, the differentiation between Louder Now and Taking Back Sunday’s prior albums is small and insignificant in the wake of how similarly enjoyable this record is.
“Liar (It Takes One To Know One)” starts with Matt Rubano’s deep bass line but is soon eclipsed by a flurry of whirring guitars, fast-paced drumming and Lazzara’s enthralling performance on the mic. His harsh and almost effeminate drawl gives every TBS song its flair and attitude, fully displayed through his declarations of “Liar (liar) / If we’re keeping score / We’re all choir boys at best (Intrusive and arrogant).” But Lazzara also displays an innate ability in switching from soft, high-pitched coos to strained screeches and screams when the occasion calls for a little more verve.
Although Taking Back Sunday had already produced a number of hits within their limited fan base before Louder Now,”Makedamnsure” is the single that catapulted the band into alternative rock’s national spotlight. The drumming is on key while the guitar riffs appropriately switch from loud whines to reserved notes as the song rises and falls. But the showstopper is in the vocal department again here: from Lazzara’s strained and brazen vocals to the pitch-perfect stability offered by Mascherino’s backup vocals, this song is dominated by the singers’ passion. Lazzara transforms from a brooding and almost seething low pitch sung through his teeth to airy, raspy and wonderfully wavering wails to convey the fullest emotions possible.
Although Lazarra is the focal point for the majority of Louder Now, “Spin” gives Taking Back Sunday’s talented guitarists and drummer their chance to show off, mesmerizing the listener with a barrage of heavy and rapid-fire riffs intensified by O’Connell’s tenacious and unrelenting drum beat. Lazzara gives a terrific effort with overexerted high-pitched vocals to let all the intensity percolate out, but the instrumental solos are captivating and make “Spin” one of the band’s hardest rockers to date.
Louder Now gets a bad rap for slightly changing up the band’s rough-around-the-edges, punk style, but in reality, it’s not a far cry from the sound that made Taking Back Sunday such a sensational group in the first place. Despite the perception that Lazzara’s wavering vocals are uncontrollable, this lead singer knows exactly what he’s doing throughout the record, commanding each song with the appropriate amounts of emotion, cheekiness and fluctuation to perfectly exude every song’s intended feeling. In addition to Lazzara’s unique and throaty vocals, Taking Back Sunday also boasts some enjoyable guitar riffs and drum rhythms, straddling the line between heavy and likable remarkably well. Fans of Brand New, Straylight Run, Senses Fail, The Academy Is…, The Staring Line, New Found Glory, Motion City Soundtrack, Say Anything, The Wonder Years and Jimmy Eat World probably already look to Taking Back Sunday as one of the pioneers of the genre, and although Louder Now deviated from the raw and immature ways of the past, it stands proudly as one of the band’s finest entries.
Final Score: 8.2/10
Rank: 2nd (five total albums)
- What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?
- Liar (It Takes One To Know One)
- Up Against (Blackout)
- My Blue Heaven
- Twenty-Twenty Surgery
- Divine Intervention
- Error: Operator
- I’ll Let You Live