Taking Back Sunday
Taking Back Sunday


1.5
very poor

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
June 22nd, 2011 | 935 replies | 64,541 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: So what's it feel like to be a ghost?

You’d think that by LP5, lines like “For Christ sake, we’re just kids” couldn’t possibly still be escaping the guy who hollered the same base adolescent sentiment nine years ago, but, somewhat comfortingly, somewhat disappointingly, here are Taking Back Sunday, the same as Taking Back Sunday have ever been: perpetually terrified high school seniors, straining their vocal cords to read vague, faux-poetic livejournal posts about their ex-girlfriends over big, loud, half-time choruses. Which is fine, honestly; it’s only fitting that the self-titled, this-is-who-we-are album from Taking Back Sunday should sound like every album Taking Back Sunday have ever made, because hey, that was one good album. But there’s something disheartening about the constant regurgitating of that dual-vocal, melodramatic pop song they sing, because every time they spew the same weepy bullshit they lose more of the charm that made their weepy bullshit so scream-your-guts-out appealing in the first place.

I’ll come right out and say it: right now, Taking Back Sunday are terrible. And not totally because they’re 30 year olds pretending the teenagers of 2005 never grew up; if anything on Taking Back Sunday had the naïve charm, melodic irresistibility, or simple bite as “A Decade Under The Influence” did, I would scream it from my rooftop and declare the record a gem for the teenage idiot still very much alive in me. No, this incarnation of Taking Back Sunday are terrible because they’re playing dress up, imposing angst onto their music in an overwhelmingly vapid guesstimate of how Tell All Your Friends was successful. As if aware that their current relevance is built almost entirely on the nostalgic worth of that album, they bank on nostalgia as a substitute for ingenuity, boiling down their sound to its essences, as if to beg us to remember their glory days with the same rose-tinted hindsight that they do. And so they scream about an ill-defined “you” and they scream about their failures and their songs do what Taking Back Sunday songs do. But these are parts to a whole that didn’t survive the move to adulthood intact, and the cracks- or, more accurately, the massive vacuum of original ideas- show, glaringly, through the good will they’re granted by doing the same song and dance with their original lineup.

Not that the mere presence of John Nolan, back from his career’s slow descent from unique to routine, earns the good will. For all the hullaballoo made about his return, his presence on this record is largely negligible. Rather than providing caustic counterpoint to Adam Lazzara’s tragic sincerity as he did on Tell All Your Friends, he takes on the same unfortunate role of personality-free backup vocalist Matthew Fazzi took on the band’s self-proclaimed worst album, New Again. The dynamic, double-sided narratives he and Fred Mascherino mastered are eschewed here, leaving Nolan the responsibility of shouting stupid banalities to support Lazzara’s skin-deep lyrics, as if he could somehow provide them with emotional heft by repeating them over and over in a desperate yelp. Lazzara has never been a particularly brilliant lyricist, but he’s lost the ability to create character. The objects of his constant torture, presumably some women he knows, are so poorly developed here that the predictable, lung-spilling choruses that scream “Care!” pass breezily by as one of the many undeservedly grandiose nothings that populate this record. With Nolan’s talents marginalized, Lazzara’s left to peruse his songbook for his favorite awful metaphors, pulling out lyrics ranging from the merely inoffensive to the gratingly bereft of wit.

“Skin against skin/ covering bone/ the body you’re in/ is aggressively slim,” is a choice lyric of the latter category, found on the aggressively bad “Sad Savior,” a song which, in addition to being a clumsy waltz, exemplifies the amusingly misguided Christian imagery Lazzara curiously culls throughout the album. There’s an inordinate amount of Jesus here, sometimes dropped subtly but more often dropped with the same sort of trivial understanding found in the unforgivable “Can you imagine Christ hitting a child?” line from “This is All Now.” I don't wish to accuse Lazzara of hopping on Christianity as a trendy thematic unifier, even though it really really really looks like he did just that, but he does sound clumsy, as if he were trying to sprinkle maturity on his run-of-the-mill anxieties when his anxieties and, yeah, his band, sound the same as ever. And the sound is entirely irrelevant.

So heave a sigh; for all the promise their reunion had, they sound as if they’re remembering how to work together, painting their album by numbers rather than taking risks or adding artistic flourishes of their own. And you know what? The slow-burning bridge/epic finale thing they nailed on “One-Eighty by Summer” just doesn’t pack the same emotional punch the twelfth goddamn time. A chorus whose essence is basically “I’m sorry, come back” is a lot more effective than a chorus that actually is “I’m sorry, come back.” But what’s worse than the ignorance of their past is their stubborn allegiance to it, their willful refusal to try something that doesn’t rely on fond memories of years gone by. They’ve become relics, men too old to be attending the local band’s shows, guys who still believe in the constant adolescence idealized on “Soco Amaretto Lime.” No one stays 18 forever. At what point do we implore them to please, stop trying?



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user ratings (439)
Chart.
2.8
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 22nd 2011



48526 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I saw this coming.

Digging: More Than Life - What's Left Of Me

BloodSweatandBeers
June 22nd 2011



978 Comments


who didn't this band sucks so hard

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 22nd 2011



48526 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Tell All Your Friends shreds though.

NigelH
June 22nd 2011



1571 Comments


They're no Brand New....that's for damn sure.

Knott-
Emeritus
June 22nd 2011



10193 Comments


back from his career’s slow descent from unique to routine


OH. MY. GOD.

Knott-
Emeritus
June 22nd 2011



10193 Comments


This review is one of the best reviews I've ever read on Sputnik.

Crymsonblaze
June 22nd 2011



7310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Album rules

Crymsonblaze
June 22nd 2011



7310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It's streaming on their Facebook page.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2011



15693 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

OH. MY. GOD.


surprised someone caught that so quickly

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins [AMDISCS]

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
June 22nd 2011



8950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

1.5 my ass

Digging: Phantogram - Voices

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
June 22nd 2011



6956 Comments


really nice review. i might check this out for the lulz

Digging: Wild Beasts - Present Tense

WashboardSuds
June 22nd 2011



4884 Comments


I didn't care for their last album that much anyway

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins

crazyblinddude
June 22nd 2011



3389 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Well hope it's better than New Again. Gonna give it a listen.

Yozzy
June 22nd 2011



36 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Best album since TAYF after first listen I'd say.

TAYF
TBS
NA
LN
WYWTB

Crymsonblaze
June 22nd 2011



7310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Man Yozzy, you are fast

Crymsonblaze
June 22nd 2011



7310 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

So confused as to why WYWTB is at the bottom

robin
Emeritus
June 22nd 2011



4221 Comments


who are these guys?

wabbit
June 22nd 2011



6742 Comments


I have never heard anything from these guys.


good review and stuff like that adam. (I promise I read it all instead of reading the first and last line like I do 95% of the time)

Yozzy
June 22nd 2011



36 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Speed kills.

And I don't know, I am just not big on WYWTB at all. A lot of just plain boring tracks.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2011



15693 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

not like here



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