Review Summary: Give Sunday back.
Having gone through eleven members in its twelve-year career, it's a wonder that Taking Back Sunday is still together and capable of making a fifth album-- but is that really a good thing?
Vocalist/guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper have rejoined the band to piece together their latest release. The lyrics are as abstract as before, Lazzara's voice is unbearably damaged and the songs begin to repeat themselves after a few tracks. Although it undoubtedly took a great deal of work and string-pulling to make, the album is ultimately just a band trying to be relevant again, though they do churn out some good tracks here and there.
The first track, "El Paso" is the band's hardest-hitting song to date. It's grungy, it's edgy, it's uninspired. One would hope that, all being grown men by now, the band would have progressed beyond the Adam-sings-John/Fred-sings pattern seen in three of their past four albums. One of the few stand-out songs on the record, "Faith (When I Let You Down)", is good, but easily worn out after all of the gang vocalizations. "Best Places to Be A Mom" is an average track, the chorus offering up emotion that seems heartfelt, but also doesn't match up to classics like "Makedamnsure" and "Great Romances of the 20th Century".
"Sad Savior" shows a different side of Taking Back Sunday. Seeming lyrically like an apologetic reprimand, Lazzara and Nolan push out their best vocals on the record, neither straining, but just being part of the music itself. Unfortunately, it doesn't last long before "Who Are You Anyway?" barges in and tries to be an anthem for teenagers everywhere.
Though the sound is fine, the lyrics just get trivial and stupid when they're supposed to be meaningful. "Money (Let It Go)" starts and then it ends. There's not much to say about it, other than "it's a song." It isn't bad or anything special.
"This Is All Now" is a bona-fide Taking Back Sunday classic, using pop-type clean guitar riffs and good vocals. Lazzara and co. should seriously take a note from themselves on this track and "Sad Savior" for future efforts.
"It Doesn't Feel A Thing Like Falling" is mindless pop punk/alt. rock, "Since You're Gone" is painfully bad, and they both do a great job of p*ssing on the band's legacy. "You Got Me" tells the story of teen pregnancy (or maybe an uncle touching his nephew?), almost inducing vomiting with the "screamed" vocals and overdone instrumentation.
The final song, "Call Me in the Morning" builds up like any other power ballad, with generic, made-to-rhyme lyrics like, "I don't know where you're going, but I know where you've been. I've been tracing all your footsteps, I've been counting up your sins." A sappy, generic closer, it only reiterates how much Taking Back Sunday have lost touch with themselves.
Although "New Again" proved that they could still create a cohesive effort, perhaps the reason that this album is so average is that they wanted to recapture "Tell All Your Friends", a task that they simply cannot do with the lacerated vocals and forgettable instrumentation their music has fallen victim to.
Nonetheless, I have a sliver of faith and a great deal of hope that Taking Back Sunday will make something special for their upcoming sixth album. Consider this album their current lineup's sophomore slump.