I was feeling both anticipation and skepticism towards this punk quintet’s fourth studio album. Especially with the loss of former guitarist and secondary vocalist Fred Mascherino, the band had to be under immense pressure to create something both consistent and innovative.
Oddly enough, the album confirmed both of my suspicions, bringing some downs but providing plenty of ups, as well.
“Sink into Me” was the first track released, and it’s no surprise they chose this energetic song to be their first single. However, I have to say this was one of my least favorite songs on the album (along with “Swing,” which many MySpace fans seemed to enjoy.)
Maybe it’s a matter of preference, but I personally don’t enjoy hearing youth-like, punk chants of “Hey! Hey!” combined with lyrics like, “Come and have your way with me.” I felt this song had a lot of potential if the music was a bit less bouncy, and the vocals a lot more biting.
“Summer Man” is a perfect example of how the band has grown positively. We all loved the pessimistic yet questionable angst of songs like “MakeDamnSure” and “You’re So Last Summer,” and this track conveys a similar message, but it does so with vocals that are poised and mature, along with a tighter guitar and stronger melody.
“You quote the Good Book when it’s convenient, but you don’t have the sense to tie your tangled tongue.” This line from “Everything Must Go” hooked me, and the more I listen to this track, the more it appeals to me.
“Lonely, Lonely” is probably my favorite song on the album, yet I’m not quite sure if it’s because it deviates the most from other songs, or because it has the most potential to sound amazing live.
Like many Taking Back Sunday songs, “Carpathia” consists of many incomplete thoughts and questions, as if you were jumping inside someone’s pool of feelings versus reading a script of their love-life. I think in any other band that trait would annoy me, but TBS has been pulling it off since Tell All Your Friends, somehow managing to describe all those idiosyncratic feelings that individuals can relate to, without ever having to mention the word “love.”
Perhaps that’s why the band has gained such a loyal fan base over the years. While some artists gain success from universal songs that a large audience can relate to, Taking Back Sunday lets you into the nooks and crannies of their personal experiences from the minute you press play. They sing of all those feelings you’ve ever felt but never said out loud, or even admitted to yourself.
For anyone who didn’t enjoy this album simply because it wasn’t like the last three, than take a closer look at previous records, because each was different than the other.
If you’re missing the dynamic combination of Mascherino and Lazzara’s vocals, you’re not alone. But remember that there are still four original ingredients in this recipe, (with some Matt Fazzi mixed in.)
Plus, without a new album there usually is no tour, and unlike many punk bands, Taking Back Sunday puts on an excellent live show and perhaps can bring more life to these new songs than the studio versions ever could.
Overall, I give this album an A for effort. New again, and they still have that silly way of keeping you on the edge of your seat.