Review Summary: New Again is a good record worth buying. Fans should be ready for a little kick in the pants, though.
Alternative rock music has taken a step forward from what this album ultimately is. For 12 bucks, its 11 songs will satisfy your craving for catchy radio-friendly rock fun. However, with records like The Script, Scream and Light Up the Sky, and It Won't Be Soon Before Long...New Again sounds a bit outdated. I just couldn't help but think that I've heard this all before!
For the musicians (and fans alike), it was a risky change for the band to abandon their off beat and impressively articulate punk/emo roots for a mainstream album. The unfortunate result is that fans will probably pan it for kicking the previous albums to the curb, and alternative rock enthusiasts will listen, like it, then shelve it and go listen to The Script. That's what I was. I read a couple of good reviews, a few lousy reviews, bought the album, got excited, listened to it and moved on to something else.
This is not to say that New Again is BAD, but rather bland. Two or three songs are fantastic efforts, but the other nine are simply above average, if that. You've probably heard something just like all of them on Maladroit and Move Along.
'New Again' opens the record and deceptively convinces you that this is Louder Now part 2. The lyrics are a bit dry, but the point gets across that the band is "ready to be new again." And they are definitely just that.
Most of New Again is really just this: A collection of vague and confusing opening verses followed by a catchy chorus that gives you goose bumps. Granted this, I just can't help but think that Taking Back Sunday is trying to impersonate their own complicated yet brilliantly poetic lyrics.
'Summer, Man' is another great example of just this: "I play dead immersed in that Technicolor counting black n white type counting one two seven through the roof" is just plain strange in my opinon. I do love the song a lot though. It has a really cool chorus. "The summer is over and I doubt I'll be seeing you around,'' is sung very well. I must admit that the song, overall, is a bit immature and certainly aimed at kids. So is most of the album.
'Where My Mouth Is' is my favorite song on the record. It's well written, beautifully sung and well produced. It sounds like every other song on the record, but I like how there is a cool blend of quiet accoustic guitars and loud electric guitars. The message in this song is also a little more interesting. It's not about relationships so much as it is a song of Adam reflecting on himself and his fame in the band.
Songs like 'MakeDamnSure,' 'Bike Scene,' 'Cute without the E' and 'One-Eighty by Summer' are complex songs to read on paper, but they are actually very well written sexually tense songs about failing relationships and the incredible pain the singer is suffering or inflicting. I'm sad to admit that most of the songs on New Again seem to be lacking the lyrical punch of the first three albums.
'Sink Into Me' is the single we all downloaded a month ago. It is a wonderfully traditional Taking Back Sunday song. "You're all I see, sharpen your teeth and sink into me" was a memorable moment for me and alternative rock fans alike. I was also impressed by ‘Carpathia.’ I believe that this song is about the closest we’ll ever get to the old Taking Back Sunday we know and miss. You can feel Adam’s emotional strain when he asks “when oh when will this sinking feeling feel like, man, that was ages ago"”
'Everything Must Go' is a toss up for everyone. I loved it. I thought it closed the album very well. A lot of people seemed to dislike it, but I think it sounded great. I loved the way it began, I loved Adam's voice in the chours, and I loved the message of the song.
I don’t hate New Again. I actually love it, and I do realize that the band has undergone some serious changes. I guess I just wanted them to give a little more to their older listeners. They seem to be doing this for the kids. And bless their hearts. Let them get more fans.
In an interview back in 2005, Lead Singer Adam Lazzara claimed that he was happy with the term EMO… but he was more or less a fan of calling his group a ROCK AND ROLL band. With New Again, he got his wish. They are now officially an alternative rock band. They’ve produced an album with all of the traditional lyrics and choruses that they would need to fit into one of the American Pie soundtracks. Although some of the songs may have some less-than-understandable lyrics, they are all actually pretty good and well worth the ten bucks you might drop.
If you are a casual fan of the band, you will like it. If you are a fan of alternative rock music in general, you’ll probably love it. But I still stand by my guns and believe that if their lyrics could have matched their music, they could have slammed Tell All Your Friends with New Again. For me, I just feel like I’ve heard this all before. Still, the band has a silly way of keeping me on the edge of my seat. But I’m not miserable.