(honestly though, it can’t be too hard, can it?). Taking Back Sunday had something to prove; although their last album was generally well received, the criticism still piled up. Enter 2006, and a want to make a studio album that reflected their live energy more than the previous albums had. Louder Now
is a much, much bigger rush than the previous two albums, with lots of unrestrained energy being showed. It is also by far their most varied album, with their first song that can be considered “epic" by pop punk standards, not one, but two
slow songs that work, and plenty of the lighthearted catchiness TBS is known for. Here it is, folks…
Episode III: Louder Now
One the biggest weaknesses I saw in my marathon TBS listening was that the previous two albums lacked strong openers. Sure, they were decent and were good indications of what the album was to be, they still fell flat. What It Feels Like To Be A Ghost
remedies this curse by being not only a good summation of Louder Now
, but by being an excellent song in and of itself. The main riff is more interesting than nearly anything on Where You Want To Be
, and is perhaps the best they’ve yet to use. However, the welcomest change is the addition of a clearly audible bass, and while it may be nothing truly special, it’s a noted improvement.
Lazzara also has improved in nearly every way for this album, he no longer sounds needless whiney, and in general sounds more comfortable. He no longer forces lyrics out to make them fit, and has also learned how to get his voice up an down without going from one high to another low. Previously, he would get uncomfortable during his more eclectic moments, and it got to be part of the “annoying trait" that plagued him. While he is still whiney, he has toned it down to more of a “He’s complaining again" than “Dude, just shut up". However, Mascherino had made the more vast improvement of the two. While he still isn’t anything out of the ordinary, he is more in tune with what the band is doing here, and while the harmonies may still not be as strong as Lazzara and Nolan may have once had, it’s a vast improvement.
Arguably the biggest strength of the previous two albums was their endings. Whether it was the pop-power combo of “You’re So Last Summer" and “Head Club" or the ballady closing of Where You Want To Be
with “Little Devotional" and “…Slowdance on the Inside", TBS knew how to close out their album in high fashion. By the grace of some higher power, they continue that trend with Error Operator
and I’ll Let You Live
. Error Operator was in a way the first single off of the album, and it was a good choice to showcase the energetic feel of the album. After a rare bass intro, we go back into a song once again reminiscent of “Head Club" or “The Union". The schizophrenic vocals compliment the very Morello-like guitar very well. I’ll Let You Live, on the other hand, is possibly the best song TBS have recorded to date. The quiet verse is mainly supported by cymbal tapping, and creates a tranquil effect not present in any of TBS’s previous releases. The chorus is the regular bombastics you’ve come to expect, but the song once again picks up at the instrumental bridge, on of the few times TBS actually jams out, and the solo Eddie Reyes pulls off is surprisingly good. All in all, a spectacular way to end the album.
However, would it be a pop punk album without some repetition? Of course it wouldn’t. It actually suffers at the same point the previous two albums did, the songs directly preceding the final two tracks. Miami
starts off interesting enough, with a bounce, suave, and beachy feeling they don’t often achieve. But the lyrics are pretty bad, while its just gets to be tiring. Yes, you pretty much like Miami. That’s cool. The solo is a welcome change, and is honestly pretty good, but after 2 minutes of dreck, its hard to regain your bearings. Divine Interpretation
is the failed slow song of the album it attempts to be a slower version of My Blue Heaven (wait for it…), but feels rather useless in comparison. The chimes make it an interesting listen, and save it from being a bad song altogether, but the basic strummed acoustic gets too be bland. I don’t know, I could just not be a fan of most acoustic tracks, but this is at least better than “New American Classic" and “Ghost Man On Third", and Lazzara’s overproduced vocals work here.
MakeDamnSure is the first official single from the album, and it’s actually one of the weaker songs on the album. The main riff is repetitive, and not even Reyes lead is all that special. The pre-chorus makes up for it with a very high guitar tone that duels with Lazzara wailing at his faux-emotional best quite well. It’s just not an interesting song, especially when compared with My Blue Heaven
. Lazzara opts for a smoky mix on his vocals here, and with the bell one for Reyes lead, makes for one of the weirdest listening experiences in the entire catalogue. However, the chorus is TBS at their best (yet, once again, its pretty much everywhere here) in catchy, melodic, and cliché-ridden lyrics. The frantic closing to the song also has a gravitas of its own, as the urgent guitar & vocals bring suck you in in a way TBS rarely accomplishes: musically.
could possibly be Taking Back Sunday’s best album. It’s a very tough runoff with Tell All Your Friends
, and it was extremely nice to see them return to that style as compared to the more bland stylings of Where You Want To Be
. My recommendation? Pick Tell All Your Friends
up first. They are very similar albums, but TAYF is more accessible than this, and also will allow you to have a broader sense of what TBS does.
However, I can tell my feelings will change. They always do; it’s the nature of pop punk (and music in general) to change in ones eyes. I went through my love/hate periods with TAYF and Where You Want To Be
, as I did with many albums. This doesn’t look like its going to be much different, frankly. While TBS do show signs of progress, specifically in the vocal and guitar departments, they are still mediocre songwriters. Their structures are still mostly generic, and the lyrics fall into the same trap WYWTB fell into. They just feel tired. However, this is still a great record, with some of their catchiest and most technically competent music. It gets a healthy 3.75 from me, but I also can’t give it the benefit of the doubt. Louder Now
gets a 3.5 from me; a great album marred not by a lack of variety, but frankly by laziness.
Recommended tracks from each TBS album:
Tell All Your Friends
: There’s No ‘I’ In Team, You’re So Last Summer, Head Club
Where You Want To Be
:The Union, Little Devotional
:What It Feels Like To Be A Ghost, My Blue Heaven, Error Operator, I’ll Let You Live