Review Summary: And again.
Conversations about Long Island's Bayside have a tendency to make the band out as a group of struggling try-hards who mask their mediocrity under the weight of a touring schedule and are yet to release a truly astounding album in spite of their ability to throw killer punches when it counts. While the latter sentiment holds true for many a listener, it's important to acknowledge straight off the bat that Bayside have never released an average record either; on the contrary, four studio albums in, their back catalogue seems the epitome of consistent. Surprise, surprise: you can make that five, and throw Killing Time
on the same shelf as everything else the band have released.
That means that the follow-up to 2008's Shudder
comes with the same list of pros and cons as all that came before it: 50% killer chorus, 40% veritable anthem, 10% slight disappointment. It will come as no shock that when Bayside get it right, we're looking at the most impassioned and energetic pop-punk of 2011, to the point where the closing title-track's call to stop 'walking single file
' provokes an almost violent reaction in even the least frustrated of listeners, and where vitriolic songs like 'Already Gone' create fictional characters in your head just so you have somewhere tangible to channel Anthony Raneri's rage.
That rage is coupled in no uncertain terms with production values which create tension and bitterness in almost every gritty guitar and rock-solid drum, and that atmosphere ties Killing Time
together even when dull songwriting threatens to allow it to fall apart; 'Sinking And Swimming On Long Island', for example, is an unfortunately simplistic track which wastes its first two minutes stuck between lyrical anti-climaxes and predictable instrumentation, before garnering a new lease of life from somewhere in its latter stages courtesy of a hopeful wordless chant and bridge. But the moments that fall flat are few and far between, and although 'On Love, On Life' should
be a clunker of an acoustic track, its blasé tone lends it a familiar Bayside charm nonetheless.
And it's that charm which ultimately sees Killing Time
add more fuel to the fire which burns underneath the constant whispers that maybe Bayside's next album will be their masterpiece
. Let's be frank: it probably won't. But at the same time, Killing Time
, like all of its predecessors, stakes a claim for alt-rock acclaim when the year closes out and serves as ample evidence that the band are not prepared to rest on their laurels; any group capable of fitting as many key changes into one song as they do here on the fabulous 'Mona Lisa' is obviously still conscious of their capacity to innovate. But yes, Killing Time
is essentially another Bayside record, and yes, that also means it's fantastic.