Looking back at the abruptly quick 10 year anniversary of Taking Back Sunday’s self-titled record was an incredibly joyous task. At first, this record got lost in my listening shuffle of so many other great albums that came out in 2011, but I thought it would only be fair to write a retrospective in case others have made the same mistake I did and not come to fully appreciate this album. Taking Back Sunday is the fifth studio album of the band’s career, and having gone through a few lineup re-shuffling over the years, this record found John Nolan and Shaun Cooper returning into the fold after some time away from TBS. The band chemistry is absolutely majestic on these songs that sound even better than they did when I first heard them. With great singles like “Faith (When I Let You Down)” and “This Is All Now,” I’m kicking myself for not revisiting this legendary album sooner.
Having a lukewarm reaction to their fourth album, New Again, certainly didn’t harm the process of Taking Back Sunday taking a hard look in the mirror to get back to the magic of their earlier works. What works best on the self-titled is the band being incredibly self-aware of what works best for their sound and honing in on the marquee elements that drew people to them in the first place. “El Paso” launches the band’s injection into the mainstream of consciousness with some incredible guitar playing from Nolan and Eddie Reyes with breakneck hooks. Front-man Adam Lazzara sounded as confident as he’s ever been and screams his vocals in-between Nolan’s barbs as well. “Faith *When I Let You Down)” follows the raucous opening statement, and was a near-obvious choice of a lead single from this record. Lazzara ponders in his opening vocals, “You might lose your faith in science / You might lose your faith in wealth / You might lose your faith in Jesus / Or lose faith in yourself,” before he explodes into the ear candy chorus. It’s classic Taking Back Sunday all around, and helped the band debut at #17 on the Billboard 200 with approximately 27,000 copies sold in its first week of existence.
The immediacy of critical tracks like “Best Places To Be A Mom” and “Sad Savior” set the album up to be massively successful, and it’s a wonder as to why more don’t attribute this record to being one of the plateaus of the band’s creative potential. Other songs like the bass and drum-driven “Who Are You Anyway?” find Lazzara continuing to use his lyrical focus on questioning everything going on his life, before unfolding flawlessly into an emo chorus staple. The second single to be released from this set was “This Is All Now,” which is a curious choice, since I don’t see too much of the commercial appeal to the single with the exception of the chorus that is similar to the build up of material found on the Louder Now album.
Luckily for the listener, things take a dramatic turn toward legendary status with one my all-time favorite Taking Back Sunday deep cuts in “It Doesn’t Feel A Thing Like Falling.” From the spiraling opening guitar riff from Nolan to the abrasive rhythm guitar elements from Reyes in the verses, all building up to the awesome explosion of sound in the massive chorus, everything fell perfectly into place on this incredible track. “Since You’re Gone” brings the tempo back down for the audience to catch their breath a bit, while the final single, “You Got Me” is much more in the same vein of the Louder Now-era tempo that made it such a massive appealing record in their discography.
The album bows out with the reflectively calming “Call Me In The Morning,” where Lazzara cautiously sings about better days ahead over some acoustic guitar and electric elements that pluck along with ease. It makes for a great way to close out a record that has stood the test of time and will be something I will make a conscious effort to put back in my regular rotation now that summer has arrived.