Taking Back Sunday
I’m sure I’m not going to be the only one to make this comparison, but Tidal Wave is a tsunami of a record, drowning Taking Back Sunday’s past post-reunion efforts. Hell, it drowns everything from Louder Now to Happiness Is…, pulling them under and emerging on the beach as second only to fan favorite Tell All Your Friends.
I’ve been a TBS fan since I saw the “Cute Without the E” video in 2002. I hung on through the Fred era, but lost my grip during the Fazzi era (New Again did have its gems, “Everything Must Go” still murders me every time I hear it). When Nolan and Cooper returned from Straylight Run, I cheered and waited for their triumphant return to my headphones. Taking Back Sunday was good, Happiness Is… was a little better, but this… this is the reunion album. This is Lazzara and Nolan at their finest, teaming up and really feeding off each other, the entire band finally back to the showmanship of Tell All Your Friends, where they seemed not to read each other’s cues but each other’s thoughts.
The album is a real step forward for the band, from the opening notes of “Death Wolf” to the closing tinkles of “I’ll Find a Way To Make It What You Want”. The band pokes their heads into the shoegazing genre, pull back into their comfort zone, and then go out again with acoustic dalliances and atmospheric melodies that are few and far between on their past records. Songs like “We Don’t Go In There” and the single “You Can’t Look Back” tout the best lyrics of the band’s entire discography. There’s an almost cinematic quality to “Fences” and the opener “Death Wolf”, while “Homecoming” is a tearjerker with a hopeful, down-to-earth bent. Drummer Mark O’Connell works overtime on the faster songs, providing a solid backbone for the songs and driving himself to what would be the breaking point for a lesser artist. Ed Reyes, guitarist and scene veteran, works with back-up vocalist/guitarist John Nolan to cook up some inventive riffs (“Tidal Wave”, All Excess”), and Shaun Cooper does things with a bass that seem at times like an aural illusion (check “Fences” if you don’t believe me). Adam Lazzara, of course, rises above all of this craftsmanship to deliver the greatest vocal performance in his career, at times nuanced and refined (“Homecoming”), other times soaring and slightly breaking with emotion (“You Can’t Look Back”, “I’ll Find a Way To Make It What You Want”), but never slacking. You can tell with a vocalist like Lazzara that he’s not phoning it in, and neither is John Nolan on his backing vocals. Gone are the days of dual vocals, but on this record you barely miss them. The two harmonize together, and blend so perfectly you want to set your TBS albums sans John on fire.
I’m calling it now, this is the best album of the band’s career, musically. If you set aside all your Emo Night nostalgic love for TAYF, this album comes off the victor. The band experiments lightly, and it pays off in spades. The title track proves that this is band that won’t go away, one that won’t let the tidal wave of changes in the scene drag them under. Taking Back Sunday are here to stay, thankfully.