Following the band’s worst album yet, Taking Back Sunday’s music was in desperate need of a change. New Again wasn’t a bad album by any means, but it didn’t quite deliver the emo alternative rock fans had fallen in love with since the early days of Tell All Your Friends. Things looked bleak for awhile, until the band announced that bassist Shaun Cooper and lead guitarist John Nolan, members of Taking Back Sunday’s original lineup, were back on board for a new self-titled album. The hope was for a true return to the excellent rawness of that defining first album. Taking Back Sunday mostly lives up to that expectation, sounding like a true spiritual successor to the stellar original. However, there are a few duds along the way that bring the album down a bit as a whole. However, lead singer Adam Lazzara is as superb as ever, bringing his typical punk/emo drawl and attitude with him to support terrific drumming and buzzing guitar riffs, making the band’s fifth album a true delight at times. And in spite of a few flaws, Taking Back Sunday should have fans excited for the future for the first time since Tell All Your Friends.
Although this album is a spiritual successor to Tell All Your Friends, that doesn’t mean Taking Back Sunday has nothing new to offer, which is emphatically proven by the raging rocker “El Paso.” Easily one of the heaviest songs the band has ever written, Lazzara’s raspy and throaty vocals mesh well with Mark O’Connell’s booming drums and the soulful riffs of Nolan and Eddie Reyes. Cooper’s groovy bass hook is also noteworthy, adding a lighter and cooler touch to the song’s edgy nature. Capturing the untamable spirit of rock is no easy feat, but this heavy headbanger is nothing less than an alternative rock gem.
However, no song on Taking Back Sunday is superior to “Faith (When I Let You Down),” an extremely catchy and enjoyable tune that could easily fit in anywhere on Tell All Your Friends. Featuring gentler verses of keyboards, humming guitars, light drumming and Lazzara’s soft and electronically distorted vocals, this song kicks into overdrive for each urgent and sincere chorus filled with guitar-chugging, pounding drums and Lazzara’s clairvoyant singing. The use of 30 Seconds To Mars-esque background harmonizing vocals adds a nice touch to each bridge, but Lazzara’s passionate words during each chorus steal the show as he wails, “When I let you down, look past your doubt / Just please don’t loose your faith in me.”
With its relaxing guitar riffs and Lazzara’s soft vocals, “This Is All Now” also starts off on a more reserved groove, but the chorus once again steps up the tempo for another wonderful kind of chorus only Taking Back Sunday and Lazzara can deliver. This song not only shows TBS still has it, but also calls to mind all the endearing memories of happily rocking out to Tell All Your Friends with its eerily similar and ultimately pleasing sound.
There are a few misses on Taking Back Sunday, such as the uninteresting “You Got Me” or the downright annoying “Money (Let It Go),” but the majority of this new album calls to mind the good old days of Tell All Your Friends. The return of the original lineup promises more Taking Back Sunday goodness to come in the future too, so this first venture, though flawed, is a very good sign of things to come. With upbeat tracks like “Best Places To Be A Mom” and the sentimental ballad “Call Me In The Morning,” there’s a good deal of variety to be had, even if it all just feels like little more than a spiritual successor to the band’s debut. Still, if there was ever a Taking Back Sunday album to replicate, it’s Tell All Your Friends, which makes this new album a must-listen for fans at the very least. Fans of Brand New, The Starting Line, Straylight Run, Say Anything, Motion City Soundtrack, Senses Fail, New Found Glory, Jimmy Eat World, Fall Out Boy and The Wonder Years will be able to appreciate this new outing and should eagerly anticipate what’s to come in the future.
Final Score: 7/10
Rank: 4th (five total albums)
- El Paso
- Faith (When I Let You Down)
- Best Places To Be A Mom
- Sad Savior
- Who Are You Anyway?
- Money (Let It Go)
- This Is All Now
- It Doesn’t Feel A Thing Like Falling
- Since You’re Gone
- You Got Me
- Call Me In The Morning