Review Summary: Listening to this album is where I want to be.
After the relative failure of Tell All Your Friends due to bad production, shoddy vocals, and a blatant use of similar song structures, Taking Back Sunday lost their guitarist John Nolan and their bassist. This means the had to hire new guys including Fred as their new guitarist. But luckily this also brought a new creative mind into the band who would be with them for the next two albums to come. The first of these albums Where You Want to Be, was a smash and most likely the band's crowning moment. Gone are the bad vocals and crappy production, and say hello to some more naunced song structures and truly a revitalization breath in to the band who many thought were dead.
The new inspiration is front and center as soon as you start the album, hearing Set Phasers to Stun. Its one of the best songs on the entire album and all the problems from Tell All Your Friends are gone; the vocals are great, crisp and clear, theres a ton of catchy guitar lines running throughout, and the lyrics are quite well done without being too over the top. And most of the album flows in this pattern. They don't even do the verse chorus verse chorus bridge pattern this time; it even goes back to the chorus before ending the song which is something that Tell All Your Friends very rarely did with all of their songs.
There are a bunch of highlights on this one, the biggest one is the single A Decade Under the Influence which has a great simple verse and chorus and a really memorable anthem bridge. It builds to intensity and then explodes and it seems like this is what they tried to do every song on Tell All Your Friends but had the other flaws holding them back because this time it goes off without a single hitch. Another highlight is the screamo punk song The Union and the bitter breakup anthem One Eighty By Summer (which sounds a lot like Your So Last Summer but I'll let it slide since its on a different album). The only real downside to the album is the clunky I Am Fred Astaire which just kind of wanders around (and let's face it, the title is stupid and makes no sense. Another hint of Fall Out Boy esque titles littering actual good music). However, other than that misstep its probably the highest point of Taking Back Sunday's pretty hit or miss catalog and a must listen for fans of pop and punk.