Long Island, New York must be one of the most fertile places in the world as far as new musical talent goes. In recent years bands such as Brand New, Taking Back Sunday and (not so recently) Glassjaw have emerged from the region. All have made a big name for themselves, except for Bayside. Although having something of a 'cult' following, or at least large-underground following- hence their website www.baysideisacult.com; and although being signed to Victory records scores them major 'scene-points' they are yet to break into the same leagues of their contemporary neighbours. Despite being a solid sophomore album, Bayside look unlikely to match the success of the aforementioned bands with the simply titled Bayside
Bayside are pop-punk; but that doesn't mean that they are just another band whose sole purpose in life is to have their videos on MTV. They sound like the result of a mad scientist fusing together members of Brand New, Taking Back Sunday and Alkaline Trio with various other influences thrown in here and there; but these three seem to be the most prominent.
The album starts with the sound of distant traffic and the band launch themselves into Hello ***ty
. It is the shortest song on the album as there is no need for more. It is short, sharp and to the point, and gets the job done with it's fast verse before ending with a nice chorus. The pace from the first track is continued into the single off the album, and arguably the strongest song here Devotion and Desire
. It displays great musical ability throughout, especially with the guitar solo. The guitar work is particularly strong on all tracks, as is the drumming from John "Beatz" Holohan R.I.P. while the bass mainly remains inaudible or disinteresting; however this does nothing to detract from the quality of a lot of the songs.
Although not being your typical pop-punk band, the order of the songs here is atypical to the genre. This is because the album starts out very well with some of the strongest songs on the album. Hello ***ty
, Devotion and Desire
and Tortures of the Damned
offer a speedy start to the album before They Looked Like Strong Hands
. It is much slower and is less aggressive, with a great, swaying 6/8 chorus. The next two songs are equally strong with Montauk
restoring the pace of the earlier track. It is lyrically and musically one of the best songs on the album with long but memorable lines such as "If you hear this and you think you're ready then meet me at Montauk where we'll write out in the sand-'Here lies the destiny of two hurt souls afraid to be cured again'-that could be our epitaph." Blame It On Bad Luck
starts out slow with marching band snare work underneath words which only just leave Anthony Raneri's mouth, sounding like he is half whispering; half talking into his chest. It soon gives way to a simple, upbeat, bluesy verse where for once the bassline is clearly audible and not playing root notes. After the chorus is a short guitar solo of sorts that makes the song even more bluesy.
After the first half of the album is out of the way, the mid record 'slump' begins. None of the songs are particularly bad, but they are just nowhere near as good as the songs that preceded them. We'll Be O.K.
is actually a very good song but just doesn't match up to earlier songs as it makes very good use of texture changes in verses and particularly in the bridge where the bass mainly plays root notes except for short ascending fills at the end of phrases that add to the 'blues' side of Bayside's music. Evelyn
seems to be filler as it passes without leaving too much of an impact apart from the odd interesting lyric, for example the line "If I had a gun and shot it at your face, would you promise not to get out of the way?" is something that could have easily come out of the dark mind of Matt Skiba.
Despite the dip in quality of a few songs near the end of the album, Bayside saved the best for last with Dear Tragedy
. It has some of the best lyrics on the album as their rambling nature helps you to feel the bitterness that Raneri is trying to convey here; especially with long, winding and violent "I'd grab by your hair and I'd hack it off, and put it on display at the front of the yard on a stick that's decorated with a little pink bow and a sign that says 'her friends and family should have taught her more about love" This line leads into a great chorus. The song and ultimately the album ends with huge sounding, gang-vocals repetitions of the chorus while Raneri yells "You'll pay for what you did to me!", sounding truly bitter.
Overall Bayside's self-titled opus is strong with the occasional dip in quality. It is refreshing to hear an 'emo' band resist the urge to throw in screaming just for the sake of it, especially since so many of their label mates at Victory Records do. Lyrically the album is strong too, although Anthony Raneri's monotonous voice may put some off. As mentioned earlier the album is unlikely to gain the band much success but for those that are sick and tired of 'emo' bands screaming their lungs out and are looking for an album with punk roots and the poetic lyrics of emo, you could do a lot worse Bayside