Review Summary: There’s always a way back from your regrets.
Taking Back Sunday boasts far
from a perfect resumé. As we’ve witnessed an almost equal number of ups and downs throughout their discography, there has always been something endearing about their inability to get their shit together. There’s a human quality attached to these guys that almost can’t be described; a grittiness that has allowed them to survive multiple lineup changes and even a few instances of falling out of favor with their fans. But that’s life – you succeed, you disappoint, and most importantly you learn. For a band that’s already “moved on” so many times that it borders on cliché, at least some
skepticism is well-deserved. Then again, it just wouldn’t be Taking Back Sunday if their best album in years wasn’t such a god awful mess.
sounds almost nothing like what you think a Taking Back Sunday record should be. They borrow some Ramones riffs, and the overall vibe of the album has more in common with The Gaslight Anthem’s adoration of Springsteen that it does the kind of teenage angst that made “You’re So Last Summer” an anthem of our youth or “There’s No I in Team” such a bitterly relatable moment. The hooks that made even the most disappointing sections of their self-titled reunion immeasurably catchy are sparse, replaced by emotionally weathered (I’m hesitant to say gruff
– because not quite) vocals and a more pointed focus on percussion, tempo, and instrumental substance. At its core, Tidal Wave
feels like a reinvention of what this band represents. Maybe that’s what they’ve been hinting at all along with that album title.
If there’s one song that proves Taking Back Sunday have finally and once-and-for-all found their voice, it’s the opening track ‘Death Wolf.’ It takes a few listens to sink in, but holy shit is it beautiful. The faded chants that start and end the song – nobody will know
– give it a cyclical feel, and for the first time it’s as if Taking Back Sunday sound like fully matured versions of their angst-ridden former selves. It may be blasphemous to draw such a comparison in a TBS review, but Brand New accomplished this markedly with The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
, when they grew out of their clever one-liners and discovered the meaning of life. I’m not saying that Tidal Wave
sounds like that album at all, but the feeling is the same. Here it’s as if they’ve finally arrived, and the entire album is one exhaustive exhale.
What’s most impressive about this isn’t even the sudden crystallization of this band’s existence, it’s the fact that their seventh album might actually be their best. Discounting nostalgia and obvious personal bias, Tidal Wave
feels like the most complete recording of the band’s career. On no other Taking Back Sunday album do we get such a varied approach without sacrificing any quality or altering the record’s comprehensive aura. Here, an acoustically stunning track like ‘Fences’ feels right at home alongside the eponymous, adrenaline-pumping rocker ‘Tidal Wave.’ The cathartic closing ballad, 'I'll Find A Way To Make It What You Want', feels like it is right where it’s supposed to be because even though it has been done many times before in premise, it's rarely sounded this genuine. Instead of trying to carefully craft a puzzle, Taking Back Sunday just lets the pieces fall where they will, marveling at the mess and finding the beauty within it all.
is going to be discussed at length for a lot of the things that itisn't
. It’s not old school Taking Back Sunday, and it’s certainly not earth-shatteringly different from the styles and artists that they borrow from with this newfound direction. But there is something to be made of this group’s longevity, and the fact that throughout all the bumps on their journey, they’ve managed to find their respective ways back to each other to continue crafting meaningful music almost a decade and a half after their inception. This is not the first time the band has wiped the slate clean, but they’ve never sounded as focused or purposeful as they do right here and now. Tidal Wave
may sound like a transition, but it feels like a resounding statement.
Is there always enough strength for the next step?
Is there always a way back from your regrets?
I want to hear you say, it'll be okay
I want to hear you say, it's not too late
It's not too late