Taking Back Sunday has been considered to be one of the top bands in alternative music for a long time. I never got super into them like a lot of my friends did back in the day, but I always enjoyed their discography. But in 2009, the band released “New Again”, which was not only a disappointment, but a very bad record in general. It pretty much killed any interest I had left in the band (since I had outgrown their earlier albums). Needless to say, I was skeptical when I was first going to listen to their new self titled full length, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised…
The album starts off with a bang with “El Paso”, one of the heavier songs the band has ever written. Just a really loud, in your face track. Comparable to their song “Spin” from Louder Now, which is possibly my favorite Taking Back Sunday song. I’ve always preferred it when these guys had really raw, screamy vocals, so this was totally what I wanted with the first track. The second track, “Faith (When I Let You Down)”, is another solid effort. Very catchy, something that would fit on Louder Now very well. By now you can already tell I’ll be making a lot of Louder Now comparisons… the two albums are very similar and were produced by the same person.
“Best Places To Be A Mom” is a pretty forgettable track that doesn’t do much for me. “Sad Savior” is another song that doesn’t offer much. Typical clean guitar used in the verses and then distortion in the chorus, which is way too slow for my liking. The bridge is awesome though, and definitely the highlight of the track. “Who Are You Anyway?” features some great backing vocals from John Nolan. Taking Back Sunday has been notorious for having amazing backing vocals (by either Nolan or Fred Mascherino), and this is the first song on the album where they really shine. In fact, it was the secondary vocals that got me into this band years and years ago.
“Money (Let It Go)” is perhaps my least favorite song on the album. It feels like they were trying too hard to write a single here. Kinda cheesy, kinda simple. I don’t know, I just don’t like it. So what better to follow up that song than “This Is All Now”, which is my FAVORITE song on the record, and definitely one of my favorites by them period. The verses contain a slower, palm muted riff, which lead into one of my favorite choruses I’ve heard in a long time: “This is all I ever asked of you. The only thing you couldn’t to do. Tell me the whole truth!” The outro is even excellent. THIS is the Taking Back Sunday I love. Will go down as one of my favorite songs of 2011.
Well, it’s going to be hard to top that one. “It Doesn’t Feel A Thing Like Falling” is a pretty generic song structure wise, but still a good track on a good album. Vocals are a huge standout on this song. “Since You’re Gone” is one of those tracks where you can feel the buildup to the chorus in the verses/prechoruses, but lacks a punch or anything memorable. It’s not a “soft” song by any means, but kind of ballad-y (maybe it’s the piano parts). Has the saddest tone of any song on the disc. “You Got Me” begins with a fun little riff which leads into a verse with only vocals and bass in the background. It’s something they hadn’t done on the record prior and added some variation to the album. Very simple chorus, so I could see it being single-worthy haha. The guitarwork and AWESOME outro bump this up to one of the top songs on this album. The final track, “Call Me In The Morning” features some pinch harmonic stuff on the guitar, something TBS seems to incorporate a lot. It ends up being one of those cliche rock songs where the first 75% of it is ballad-esque and the final portion is the loud/heavy part.
Overall, I was VERY pleased with this offering from Taking Back Sunday. Is it better than Tell All Your Friends? No. But it does stack up with all of their other albums (I compare it to Louder Now) and is infinitely better than New Again. This album should restore your faith that this band still has it and can still put out quality music.
Music video for “El Paso”: