With their eponymous record, Taking Back Sunday brings the heat with the Tell All Your Friends line-up and manages a full-sounding blast of a rock record. It may seem that the fifth record is designed to banish the mediocrity of New Again, an album the band didn’t like all that much. Overall, though, beyond new beginnings or a recapturing of the emo spirit, Taking Back Sunday is all about the Rock.
The return of guitarist/vocalist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper to the outfit is certainly a welcome thing, as the band sounds immensely whole and satisfied. Now in their 30s, Taking Back Sunday is off and running with the idea of moving forward. Rehashes of past ghosts are no longer an option, as the band sounds “grown” in a way that should satisfy old-school fans while possibly earning them some new ones.
“El Paso” boots of the self-titled album with a crunchy Nirvana sort of vibe. The drum and bass underpinning of the verses, complete with screeching guitar crashes, makes for some head-nodding stuff. Vocalist Adam Lazzara and Nolan split some screams on the pleasingly heavy track. Off to a good start, no doubt.
“Sad Savior” is another rocker, this time along the likes of a Weezer track. Thick guitar chugs through a sing-along vibe.
That ol’ familiar pop-punk stuff makes an appearance here and there, especially on cuts like “Best Places To Be a Mom” and “Who Are You Anyway?” These tracks, with their borderline whining vocals and fizzy guitars, may not satisfy as much as the crunchy, hard rock of the majority of the album. But they are, if nothing else, affectionate nods to the ground Taking Back Sunday grew out of.
Happily, the big stadium riffage of “It Doesn’t Feel a Thing Like Falling” and “You Got Me” mark more rock supremacy.
All in all, Taking Back Sunday impressed me with, er, Taking Back Sunday. The album is sharply produced and features plenty of big fat rock moments perfect for summer air guitar. Whininess is kept to a minimum and the guys still have plenty to say from a lyrical standpoint, creating an album that you don’t have to turn your brain off to jam to.