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Album Review: Taking Back Sunday

Posted by Johnny Chadwick on 07/27 at 10:09 AM

Album Grade: B

Taking Back Sunday has returned…to an original line-up that is. Formed in 1999, guitarist Eddie Reyes and drummer Mark O’Connell have seen some of the most line-up changes for any band. Their first record, Tell All Your Friends, was released in 2002 with original members Adam Lazzara (vocals), John Nolan (guitar/keyboards/vocals), Shaun Cooper (bass), Mark O’Connell (drums), and Eddie Reyes (guitar). For their 2011 release, Taking Back Sunday has returned to it’s Tell All Your Friends line-up for their fifth studio album.

This album brings back a feel missing from Taking Back Sunday (TBS) records since 2002. John Nolan’s return is the first distinction long-time TBS fans will recognize on this record. Nolan had parted ways with TBS in 2003 performing in another project called Straylight Run. Straylight Run flows at a lighter pace than TBS and you can hear that Nolan has brought some of these new experiences to the table.  He experiments with melodies from intense guitars to translucent keyboards, flowing through verses and interludes, all the while keeping the backup vocals and harmonies for which he’s notorious. The self-titled record’s opening track “El Paso” is a great example of Nolan picking up the guitar to compose from his roots. The introductory riff showcases the power of his guitar, and that power gives this record it’s drive. Nolan’s noticeable voice backing up Lazzara on the verses raising the hype for the entire album.

In all, TBS has always been a band with an emphasis on vocals. Lazzara doesn’t disappoint with this album. The second track and first single released off of the album “Faith (When I Let You Down)” brings a forceful yet simple guitar rhythm. However, the vocals are why this song is the first single as well as a primary song on the movie Transformers 3 soundtrack. “When I let you down looks past your doubts. Just please don’t lose your faith in me” is the prominent line throughout the song as Lazzara tries to bring a sense of dignity to harder times. The next track “Best Places To Be A Mom” was one of four that the band released as previews prior to the record being put on the market. It continues to bring the TBS feel with a good mix of the first two songs through challenging guitars, yet a smoother melody in the vocals.

This Is All Now” brings a calmer vibe while exhibiting Nolan’s keyboard stylings as well. As one of the record’s gems, Lazarra puts his focus on the feeling of being lied to while sensitive emotions are being put into consideration. He shows off his vocal talent with feeling of betrayal in his voice. Lines like “Yeah, I know what’s rotting beneath your best intentions. At the heart of your convictions sits a broken man that needs to understand” give you an understanding of why Adam Lazarra has always been involved with creating lyrics.

The record also contains slower paced songs like “Sad Savior,” and the closer “Call Me In The Morning.” However many of the upbeat songs follow the same structure. They almost over-use the feeling of anticipation of the final chorus. This is one of the few downfalls of the album: the dynamics are all structured the same.  Each song follows the same layout by ending each song with a subtle pre-chorus to build anticipation for the final chorus.

The band released the album with little rest between tours in just over a year. Although their chemistry has returned with this great array of talent, their strain on time cut down on production. If you compare this album to Tell All Your Friends, you can see in the past they kept each song fresh with the constant changes in structures and a higher poppy sound. However, in this self-titled, album the alternative rock innuendo is more prominent.

The finishing songs on the album shine through with more pop that reminds me most of the Taking Back Sunday I’ve been nostalgic for. Songs such as “It Doesn’t Feel Like Falling” and “Since You’re Gone” bring forth the guitars of Nolan and Cooper with great riffs and catchy melodies. Drummer, Mark O’Donnell, has always been the man for the job when it comes to TBS, and these alternative melodies need the right feel that he perfects while showing his true talent on the drum fills.

The last song worth mentioning pinpoints TBS’s current direction the most. The gem “You Got Me” mixes great harmonies in the vocals with the relatable relationship lyrics that add a hint of emo to their style. The powerful ending makes you want to jump like a great punk concert while singing along with Lazarra and Nolan at the top of your lungs.

All in all, this album deserves to be recognized for what it does achieve. The album sticks in your head and keeps you wanting to play repeat and memorize all the lyrics. In a recent interview, The LION 90.7fm host DJ Kap’n Krunch described the album as more “groovy” and this is a great way to sum up the type of rock genre this album falls under. Check out Taking Back Sunday’s new self-titled album if you’re looking for a taste of what they once were. It may have you putting their first album, Tell All Your Friends, on for the first time in years. Also, be sure to give their new music video “Faith (When I Let You Down)” a view – it is definitely an eyebrow raiser:

{name} Author: Johnny Chadwick
Bio: Johnny Chadwick is a DJ for The LION 90.7fm and Media Studies Undergrad that has a passion for genuine music. Skilled at percussion and guitar, he has always enjoyed writing originals and playing shows with his band. Outside of music he enjoys analyzing media and keeping up with modern technology. Skating and Snowboarding are just some of his hobbies. His favorite genres come from hardcore or alternative roots and range from indie to punk. Some of his favorites are Saosin, Brand New, From Autumn to Ashes, Lady Radiator, Koji, & Every Time I Die.

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