Taking Back Sunday
Happiness Is


3.2
good

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
March 10th, 2014 | 219 replies | 20,999 views


Release Date: 03/18/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Pop-punk minus the punk

When John Nolan and Shaun Cooper rejoined Taking Back Sunday in 2010 after spending several years together in Straylight Run, most of us thought this would be a return to the rough around the edges vocal yowling and hook heavy turn of the century emo-pop of 2001's Tell All Your Friends. Well, we were wrong. Instead, the duo brought Straylight Run's softer brand of melodic pop into Taking Back Sunday's continued evolution towards more mainstream alternative rock. The transition wasn't seamless, Taking Back Sunday's self titled can attest to that, but now two records into this reunion, it's obvious that Nolan and Cooper's influence on their songwriting is now at the core of Taking Back Sunday's identity.

The result is that Happiness Is essentially sounds like a Straylight Run record being fronted by Adam Lazzara. The album's first two singles, “Flicker, Fade” and “Stood A Chance” are relatively tame offerings when compared to what made Taking Back Sunday famous, but the songwriting is still wondrously catchy. The subdued verses burst into the same kind of choruses that Lazzara has always seemed to make bigger than they actually are; each one turning into fun, skin deep summer anthems. Lyrically, the team of Nolan and Lazzara still playfully wind sarcasm and wit with a love lorn nostalgia like when they were teens, but this time around it doesn't stick like it used to. It's not that they have lost their knack for honesty, but there is a slight gap in it when you get men in their thirties writing pop songs for teenagers. You can compare it to Weezer and Rivers Cuomo's tale of young love on “Pork and Beans”. That being said, the pot shot at The Kings of Leon in “Flicker, Fade” almost completely absolves Lazzara from this slight awkwardness. Elsewhere on Happiness Is, Taking Back Sunday show their age in more fitting ways -- like on the penultimate “We Were Younger Then”. It blends the Warped Tour rock of their past with the big stadium dad rock of U2's How To Dismantle and Atomic Bomb. It continues into the closing ballad Nothing At All and for the first time in a long time, Taking Back Sunday feel as though they are comfortable with themselves.

All in all, Happiness Is sounds like as much of a career turning point into mellow pop rock territories as Louder Now was a shift into alternative guitar rock for Taking Back Sunday some eight years prior. While obviously those looking for a passive glance of teenage nostalgia a la Tell All Your Friends or Where You Want to Be might be disappointed in what Taking Back Sunday have offered up here, it is by no means a sub-par record. Happiness Is is warming shot of feel good guitar pop and bright choruses that is easily on par with the best of the latter half of Taking Back Sunday's career. The only question is will fans be open to the sound of pop-punk minus the punk?



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user ratings (154)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
SuaveDino (4)
Taking Back Sunday has finally had the opportunity to tighten and develop their sound in "Happiness ...

SaintAndrews (4)
You held on tight and for dear life, but you'll never be happy....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2014



15730 Comments


reading between the lines, man does this sounds dull

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
March 10th 2014



19654 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm curious to hear this even though I didn't care for their last one very much. Good review

Cormano
March 10th 2014



940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The only question is will fans be open to the sound of pop-punk minus the punk?
most likely they won't, as tbs is known for having one of the shittiest fanbases, and for me well I've loved the direction they took since new again so I will probably enjoy this a lot, the 2 singles released so far sound great

Cormano
March 10th 2014



940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ok I will download it while I hit the gym, I do have high expectations for this

Emyay
March 10th 2014



5941 Comments


i'll check this out. low expectations tho

henryChinaski
March 10th 2014



2723 Comments


At least the artwork's cool...

Digging: The Tidal Sleep - Vorstellungskraft

Cygnatti
March 10th 2014



21350 Comments


andcas said this was shit. i'll take his word for it.

Emyay
March 10th 2014



5941 Comments


At least the artwork's cool...


lol

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2014



28422 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

last one had some good jams/highlights

Digging: Kimbra - The Golden Echo

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2014



28422 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

like new again was arguably weaker

Cormano
March 10th 2014



940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol andcas never said that, in fact he liked flicker fade

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2014



28422 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

andcas is gone but he will never be forgotten.

ValarMorghulis
March 10th 2014



829 Comments


lol the rating chart

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
March 10th 2014



19654 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Flicker, Fade isn't bad at all

Pheromone
March 10th 2014



3466 Comments


I'll probably end up listening to this sooner or later.

Digging: Sneaker Pimps - Becoming X

ShitsofRain
March 10th 2014



5848 Comments


so whats happiness

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2014



3440 Comments


lol the rating chart


This is easily explained by the fact that there are currently four ratings and all of them are different

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 10th 2014



9033 Comments


Andcas also has TAYF behind WYWTB and Louder Now so take his opinion with a grain of salt

Cygnatti
March 10th 2014



21350 Comments


I may agree with him on that actually.

And cormano, he just said it exactly a few hours ago.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2014



17204 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Louder Now has my favorite TBS song (My Blue Heaven)



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