Taking Back Sunday
Taking Back Sunday

Taking Back Sunday – Taking Back Sunday

No one ever thought the five guys who created the scene staple, Tell All Your Friends, would ever reunite. Too much gossip, too much pain, too many bridges burned. It just wasn’t going to happen, and it was just the world Taking Back Sunday fans learned to live in. After the band released the uninspired New Again in 2009, a lot of diehard fans took it as the last straw and started to jump ship for good. Never again would we be fooled into getting excited for a new TBS record – we’ve been burnt for the last time.

Then the (what we thought) impossible happened.

Bridges were rebuilt. Friendships were mended. John Nolan and Shaun Cooper decided to rejoin Adam Lazzara, Eddie Reyes, and Mark O’Connell in Taking Back Sunday, and just like that, we were back. At first it was hard to believe, but hey, if Jay-Z and Nas could bury the hatchet and collaborate on a song, then why not Taking Back Sunday (and more specifically Lazzara and Nolan)? And even though shows sold out quickly and recording updates teased, fans were still apprehensive. Could they recapture that Tell All Your Friends magic? Or would the hype and expectations crush them?

First off, let’s be real. We don’t listen to Tell All Your Friends because it has great musicianship or incredibly deep lyrical content (it doesn’t contain either); we listen to that album because we associate the moments and experiences from our lives as teenagers with that album. We love it for the ridiculous energy, angst, and intensity pouring from each track. Quite frankly, if Lazzara was yelping about apologizing for bleeding on shirts 8 years later, I would be gravely disappointed in Taking Back Sunday. Rather, what I was hoping for was for the energy and passion from their first two records to re-emerge. No one should have expected TAYF: The Sequel. And, thankfully, that’s not what we get.

The best way to enter your first listen of Taking Back Sunday is to go in with no expectations. Now I understand that such a thing is easier said than done, but what could you really expect from a group of guys that haven’t made music together for nearly a decade? Truly, all I was hoping for on this record was to hear a group of reunited friends rock out to some music they truly believed in. And that’s exactly what we get on their self-titled fifth album.

The aggressive opener “El Paso” enters the ring as a riot-inducing heavyweight. The maniacal screaming of Lazzara and Nolan will instantly remind listeners of the “good ol’ days,” while “Best Places To Be A Mom” will be the closest thing we get to a TAYF-esque song. First single “Faith (When I Let You Down)” aims to fill arenas nationwide with its massive chorus, aided by some “whoa-oh” chants taken straight from the 30 Seconds To Mars playbook.

“Sad Savior” is your standard ho-hum rock song – that is until Nolan kicks it up another notch during the bridge. Unfortunately, this is the first of three songs that (temporarily) halts the momentum. “Who Are You Anyway?” features some unpleasant guitar chords and a weak hook, while “Money (Let It Go)” tries to pick up the pace but comes across as half-baked, as it doesn’t fit it at all with the record as a whole.

Thankfully, the quintet picks it up with “This Is All Now,” which will go down as one of the best songs the group has ever written. The duel vocals of Lazzara and Nolan carry a menacing snarl throughout, while O’Connell displays some oomph behind the kit during the bombastic chorus. Lazzara has never sounded better than he does on Taking Back Sunday. His voice soars on beautifully destructive “Since You’re Gone,” and his bravado on “You Got Me” is unwavering. 

The high-rising “It Doesn’t Feel A Thing Like Falling” features infectious guitar riffs and an enormous chorus. Sure it can get a bit repetitive, but that doesn’t take anything away from overall impact of the song. The delicate closer “Call Me In The Morning” is brimming with Straylight Run-influenced tempos and structure; ending the album 

You can tell that having Nolan around this time really helped Lazzara’s writing. Some of his best lyrics show up on Taking Back Sunday (most notably “You Got Me” and “Call Me In The Morning”). Reyes and O’Connell seem reinvigorated to be playing with Nolan and Cooper as well, as the aforementioned “This Is All Now” and “El Paso” are some of the most electric stuff the band has released in years.

Once you let it sink in that this isn’t the same band from the early aughts, then you can start to appreciate Taking Back Sunday as a solid rock record – their best in 7 years. This is a collection of five friends picking up the pieces, rekindling friendships, and finding out how to rock out together again. Sure, there are some missteps on the record (the middle portion kills some of the momentum and the production, especially on the drums, is below average), but throughout the album you can sense that, for the first time in years, Taking Back Sunday is on the verge of setting the scene on fire once again.

This article was originally published on AbsolutePunk.net