Taking Back Sunday
152


2.5
average

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
October 26th, 2023 | 142 replies


Release Date: 10/27/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: S'old Again

There's a lot to be written and said about how the pop-punk bands that have been around the longest habitually try on new skins. Just last week I was waxing theoretical about the different shapes blink-182 tried on for their big Tomback, including but not limited to: straight-ahead revival of their classic sound, giving their old signifiers a facelift via modern sensibilities or just outright pandering to the worst parts of what their newest demographic ostensibly likes. Yellowcard doubled down on their most beloved sound to safe but undeniably thrilling results, while Anberlin got weird with it, throwing the kitchen sink at their sound until it was barely recognisable. With a new good blink album in the rearview and a promising one from Green Day in the headlights, turn-of-the-century pop-punk is staring down a surprisingly healthy future if it can keep its shit together for more than an album cycle. All of which leads to my question: what happens when a band that didn't need the reinvention voluntarily takes a makeover anyway?

Taking Back Sunday's evolution was always more of a slow roll: you can hear in basically real-time how seeds are planted and grown in their discography, how "Call Me in the Morning"'s gentle acoustic sway bloomed into full-on country twang bit by bit. But after 7 years between albums, a stopgap as long as Yellowcard's entire breakup and reformation, Taking Back Sunday had the option to keep that momentum chugging or make a hard left. Yes, this is the Taking Back Sunday of 2023, with a fresh sheen of busy production and a 10-song tracklist which blurs by in barely more than half an hour, Adam Lazzara sounding like a man a decade younger with some generous helping of pitch correction and shorter songs. Happiness Is and Tidal Wave were quiet triumphs of late career songwriting, pulling together a growing inclination towards heartland rock with the slowburning supernovas John Nolan favours in his solo work for two very strong album packages. Neither did the numbers that 152 could do with an assist from new producer Tushar Apte, boardsman for Steve Aoki during his recent run-in with Taking Back Sunday. Apte's influence goes well beyond the radio-friendly shimmer of the songs; if the press releases are to be believed, up to encouraging the band to strip their songwriting down to the essentials and build all over again. No country stompers, ambient-tinged ballads or surreal autotuned bridges to be found here; in their place the blatant Killers tribute "The One", throwback punk powerhouse "S'old", syrupy torch song "I Am The Only One Who Knows You".

Objectively, it's the right move for a band so long gone to return with a simple, digestible version of themselves. It's the TBS reboot, folks - less depth but easier on the eyes and ears, the kind of album they likely had in mind when they instead ended up with their self-titled misfire, even down to the easy fan-pleasing simplicity of the 152 title. And while the nuances and flow of Tidal Wave are, at least by me, dearly missed, there are moments on 152 where the band sound completely re-energised. Album highlight "Keep Going" is their best adrenaline shot to the vein in years, and you can almost see the wicked grins on Nolan and Lazzara's faces while they yell in tandem about a "boot-stomping blood-letting son of a bitch". The flickering flame of opener "Amphetamine Smiles" is nicely atypical for the band, more reminiscent of Nolan's superb last solo effort Abendigo, while the questionably titled "Juice 2 Me" boasts the catchiest hook from the boys in years. For each of these peaks there's a trough. The easy targets are "Quit Trying", where Apte's frankly ugly production clashes infuriatingly with the meat of the song, and "The Stranger", which breaks a near-flawless streak of outstanding closers in this discography with an underwhelming anticlimax.

It's still interesting to hear Taking Back Sunday with an outside hand so firmly on the wheel, even as the highs and lows of their collaboration with Apte result in something more uneven than this reboot needed to stick. "Go big or go home", Lazzara wisely croons through layers of polish on "The One"; maybe next time around Taking Back Sunday will match their lofty ambitions with a few more ideas.



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user ratings (64)
2.6
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2023


47796 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

had this for about a week. my verdict is: couple bangers

onionbubs
October 26th 2023


21571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeahh



i like the stranger more than you do but spot on. was very underwhelmed by this. fantastic writeup tho as always

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2023


47796 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Stranger is alright but I don't understand why Juice wasn't the closer. even loops back to the start of Amphet. quite nicely



Quit Trying is the only thing I outright hate here. ugly ass song

bellovddd
October 26th 2023


6596 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

had zero idea this was happening wtf

onionbubs
October 26th 2023


21571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oh 100% agree on it being a bizarre sequencing choice. juice works way better as a closer and stranger as the penultimate

Calc
October 26th 2023


17384 Comments


still like noodling new american classic on the geetar once in a while

RadioNew03
October 26th 2023


190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Can’t be a 2.5 I’ve seen like 10 different reviews on other websites/ magazines giving this 4/5 8/10 and so on

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 27th 2023


47796 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

oh damn is that how it works alright I'll update it real quick, didn't know opinions worked to a hard number minimum

LeonardKJones
October 27th 2023


39 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

First listen and I'm underwhelmed (outside of S'old). In saying that, I disliked Happiness Is and Tidal Wave on first listen and now they're some of my fave TBS albums. New Again, being their best.

decisions
October 27th 2023


1110 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

this literally could not be worse

bellovddd
October 27th 2023


6596 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

hard to be disappointed when i didn't know they were dropping an album but damn its just mid radio rock at this point.

Pikazilla
October 27th 2023


30488 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

yeah, band's output after new again has been fucking wack

bellovddd
October 27th 2023


6596 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i liked a couple of tracks off their self titled but ye. band is done

Middle18
October 27th 2023


396 Comments


Their last two albums Happiness is and Tidal wave have been their best work since their first two albums but this one disappointed me on first listen.

What's with everyone loving New again these days it was a complete bomb on its release and no one had anything good to say about it. Now people consider it their best album.


Pikazilla
October 27th 2023


30488 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

what's with the five people on this website stanning tidal wave, the title track on that album is mouldy stinky deuce

decisions
October 27th 2023


1110 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

New Again is still terrible but the band’s output after that makes it look decent. First 3 albums rule and I will pretend the band broke up after that

Shemson
October 27th 2023


4157 Comments


The last couple were ok, had a few great songs though

I saw these supporting Alkaline Trio in 22 and Adam was the most genuine, humble and entertaining frontman I’ve ever seen so just on that strength I’ll check this out

Obviously first two albums were iconic and third was a smash hit no doubt

onionbubs
October 27th 2023


21571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pika your allergy to any gaslight anthem sounding anything does not mean we cant enjoy tidal wave for rightfully being their most interesting album



new again is a mess but everything must go is a tbs classic. its also definitely better than this

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 27th 2023


47796 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

ye TW is their best work, New Again is better than this, all correct as usual

Sowing
Moderator
October 28th 2023


44150 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Jeez it sounds like they're trying to emulate the Goo Goo Dolls and failing



Great review



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