Review Summary: Taking Back Sunday's fifth studio album is a bit dry in areas it shouldn't be...but what is good on the record is among the best the band has ever written.
Taking Back Sunday's self-titled fifth studio album is actually an average record with a few astounding hits to keep it fresh and memorable. It's not the band's best work, but its strengths will breath hope into the hearts of fans looking for something closer to what they used to love before the days of MakeDamnSure.
Money (Let it Go) is the kind of song that should get you pumped and ready to jump around, but it feels dry. The static guitars are loud enough and Adam Lazarra’s lyrics are well vocalized, but it just doesn’t do it for me. It Doesn’t Feel a Thing Like Falling is another average song that could have been better. It has an incredibly hopeful opening but then it dries out in its verses with quiet and chippy guitars that lack any melody or ‘oomph.’ The lyrics are not that interesting, either. Sad Savior has a sweet nature…but it’s still - kind of to soft songs - what Money (Let it Go) is to heavy songs. It’s got all of the necessary tools and skills to get the job done, but it still feels incomplete. It’s too boring. I’m sure the kids will love these songs, and bless their hearts – I hope they can’t get enough of it…but for me, I just can’t listen to this stuff anymore. Taking Back Sunday is way better than this. My largest problem with the album was a funny face made to me in the closing track Call Me in the Morning. There was a line in the second verse about “pulling out a single bloody tooth” that just sort of made me feel awkward. I was like… “what"” And that song has a really nice melody, too. What a shame! The best ‘average’ song on the album is Who Are You Anyway" The lyrics are good, and the chorus is very melodic and full of energy. I liked it. It’s not a song I’ll revisit 128 times, but it was pretty cool.
Now, just like this album, I’m about to turn around and bring some INCREDIBLE ENERGY to this review. I am so impressed by the song Best Places to Be a Mom. It is perhaps their best song. I like it more than some of their older work from Tell All Your Friends and Where You Want to Be. It SOUNDS like something you might hear on those albums. There’s Cute Without the ‘E’ and Ghost Man on Third…and there’s One-Eighty by Summer, Little Devotional and Slow Dance on the Inside…and there’s Best Places to Be A Mom. This song kicks you in the face. It’s incredible. Faith (When I Let You Down) is the outstanding first single that brings the melodies we know the band has such a great ear for. Its lyrics are simple and elegant. El Paso is loved by all. It’s by far the band's heaviest song to date. It’s not a classic, but it features the best vocals by Adam Lazarra in his career. Saving the best for last, of course, is This is All Now. The quintessential modern Taking Back Sunday song. It’s slow rhythm, quirky lyrics that impress and dark melodies make it a song you’ll probably listen to FOREVER…if you’re a fan of the general genre, of course. I wish the whole album sounded more like this song. This, Faith and Best Places to be a Mom feel grossly out of place on the album. Since You’re Gone’s is very sweet. Simple lyrics abound, but you can still feel the pain in Adams voice and the surrounding music. I love it. I didn’t care much for the album’s second single You Got Me, but it’s gaining a lot of popularity amongst fans.
Sadly enough, some of the band’s better songs are bonus tracks on the Deluxe Edition. Semi-Automatic, and You Were Right could have easily replaced Sad Savior and Call me in the Morning. In fact, this could have been their best album had the band re-mastered those songs and added some more production value to them. They’re fantastic.
For fans, you might be shocked to learn that background singer John Nolan is criminally absent throughout most of the album. When he does make an appearance, it’s far too short and he more or less repeats Adam. There’s no parallel narrative sung by him as there has been in past albums. I also noticed God and Jesus Christ too often make sudden appearances in the lyrics, which is very off putting. It kind of goes back to my problem with Call Me in the Morning. I think those lyrics are forced and will create an uncomfortable environment for the listeners. Whether you’re offended by the lyrics or not, it’s still a bit much because the band sounds silly.
Aside from those points, the album is much better than their previous effort, New Again. There’s a lot of skip able content, but the album’s strongest songs are among the best in their career. I guess I can just give the album a B. It’s an 85%. It’s above average. It’s pretty good. It’s not a letdown. It’s fun.