Taking Back Sunday – Taking Back Sunday

written by: June 28, 2011
Taking Back Sunday LP self titled album cover Release Date: June 28, 2011

★☆☆☆☆

Have you ever been to an emo show? Do you remember singing along to that chorus that you love so much? Was singing along to that chorus the best part of that show?

The answer to that last question is important because it largely informs what you will think about Taking Back Sunday self-titled fifth album. While the majority of people in the know about TBS will prattle on and on about guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper’s return to the fold after leaving in a huff following the release of Tell All Your Friends, this wave of ‘TBS is back” press only serves to dissuade a critical listener to the real truth. Taking Back Sunday’s new album is not only the worst of their career, it is quite possibly one of the worst albums ever made by a scene-defining emo band.

Taking Back Sunday was always divisive, given that its lyrical quality was never too poetic. Tell All Your Friends was a mixture of violent, gun-related imagery and broken-heart-on-sleeve-isms, but at least in the early days vocalist Adam Lazarra and Nolan were writing as much as they could, simply because they couldn’t hold their emotions back. Taking Back Sunday, then, is the counterpoint to that unhinged lyrical aggression—the lyrics here frequently come off cloying, insincere, cringeworthy or downright lame. When Lazarra wails “I’m sorry/Come back!” on “Since You’re Gone,” it’s easy to read his break-up with Eisley leading lady Chauntelle DuPree playing a part, but the whole affair is so mucked with disgusting, over-30s retro-angst that the sentiment gets lost in a sea of laughter. Elsewhere Lazarra trends too dangerously misogynistic, using his rock star cred to legitimize cheating on a woman in “Faith (When I Let You Down).”

Evidenced by TBS’ increasingly glossy output post-Nolan leaving, it was assumed that Nolan’s return would jumpstart the energy and vitriol present on their original records, breaking them out of their spiral down into the doldrums of Angels & Airwaves, 30 Seconds to Mars and Foo Fighters land. Apparently, not so. Nolan re-up with the band now appears to be purely a band PR move—there is no qualitative difference between Nolan and Matt Fazzi, who was so important to TBS’ last record, New Again, that you forgot he was even part of the band. Nolan is reduced to screaming and harmonizing, which on paper doesn’t sound far removed from his old duties in TBS.

Given even a cursory run through both Tell All Your Friends and this album, the difference is immediately apparent—John Nolan has no major creative part in Taking Back Sunday anymore, and he is yet another sidekick to the Adam Lazarra meteor of mediocrity.

The album’s crushing lyrical monotony (every chorus is repeated at least five times; trust me, I checked) would be more easily justifiable were Taking Back Sunday still roaring with its former post-hardcore aggression. In its place, however, we get a slate of nearly identical mid-tempo radio rock songs, many of which don’t sound removed enough from Daughtry’s output (the chorus of “Doesn’t Feel A Thing Like Falling”). Even better excuses for songs, like the admittedly rollicking “El Paso” or the passable “Best Places to be a Mom” highlight how awful Taking Back Sunday has truly become—cheap love songs (“You Got Me”), boring femme fatale stories (“Money (Let It Go)”) and even a self-important pop talk (“This is All Now”) are all given green lights for a proper LP, yet the propulsive rager “Ballad Of Sal Villanueva” gets relegated to rarities comps and torrent downloads. AP.net kids may not realize it now, but we live in a world where Taking Back Sunday has become all that emo should not be, eclipsing Pete Wentz’s descent into tabloid nonsense. Taking Back Sunday is no longer the band that missed its opportunity to be great. They’re the band who wasted its opportunity.

Read up on The History of Taking Back Sunday, Brand New and Straylight Run.

Taking Back Sunday – s/t Tracklist:

  1. “El Paso”
  2. “Faith (When I Let You Down)”
  3. “Best Places To Be A Mom”
  4. “Sad Savior”
  5. “Who Are You Anyway?”
  6. “Money (Let It Go)”
  7. “This Is All Now”
  8. “It Doesn’t Feel A Thing Like Falling”
  9. “Since You’re Gone”
  10. “You Got Me”
  11. “Call Me In The Morning”
  • steeler

    Hey Tyler,The songs are good! i think they are catchy and good groves.Dude, quit being so uptight!

  • Bummed McBummerson

    much agreed. the return of John Nolan I thought would trigger the return of the original Taking Back Sunday sound, or at least be heavily influenced by what John Nolan had gained musically in his (what, eight?) years after his original departure from the band, but just as you said there is not a single trace of this anywhere on the album. “Adam Lazarra meteor of mediocrity” sums it up best.

    • Sarah

      After listening to this album, I feel like my hero died…he was killed by the nuclear family. Where are the songs where he means it, where you feel it, where fuck I can actually listen and get into every lyric on every song! I want the Adam back who sang “and you can slit my throat and with my one last dyeing breath Ill apologize for bleeding on your shirt” I mean that’s real. Believable…this album every song makes me sad because I just can’t feel a thing. I didn’t want to believe it, but The Scene is dead and I think a housewife killed it. It’s just missing all that passion…the passion that made these guys my number one band for years! What band could possible fill in for the awesomeness of what these guys where? Suck city. My final thought whats worse for than zoloft for rock bands…apparently domestic bliss. ugh…

  • Alan

    I agree with all of the above. I am very disappointed in my favorite band. I lived my high school days blasting TBS and this album completely sucks. I thought the return of their original backup singer would insight Tell All Your Friends inspiration back to the band, but my excitement was shot down on the release date of their self titled album. COME ON ADAM! THIS IS NOT YOU!

  • adam

    stupidest shit ive ever seen, sorry taht taking back sunday doesn’t want to sound the same exact way in every cd they make you dumb fucking idiot, there new music is beyond amazing its alternative, sorry taht your “emo” bands sound the same excat way in every cd, and they dont have the talent that taking back sunday has in having so many cds that sound nothing alike, cuz they have wahts called talent, and obciously you need talent in your biography cuz your a fucking idiot, john nolahn is back taking back sunday is back. so quit being an idiot and realize how much talent they have you dumb ass

    • Tyler

      I don’t know about all of you, and I HATE responding to my own articles… but this is fantastic. SIMPLY. FANTASTIC.

  • Brett

    Here’s the thing –

    People are expecting this album to BE Tell All Your Friends, or at the very least be BETTER than it.

    But here’s the God’s-honest truth – there is no album on the planet that will ever take you back to that time, place, or feeling that you had back then. TAYF was released over 8 years ago, and we were all different people then. So are the members of this band, and every band that’s made records since then. Shit, listen to Sum 41 back then and now. They were making Fatlip and singing out getting drunk in the back of El Caminos. That’s cool for back then, but we’re all different now.

    So is this album better than Tell All Your Friends? No. Is it an attempt to be better than Tell All Your Friends? No. Is it a legitimate attempt by a band who’s been plagued by lineup changes for the past 8 years to make a decent album with actual feeling and musical integrity? My vote is an astounding ‘yes’.

    • Tyler

      See here’s the thing with that… that’s lowering your expectations.

      I’m not saying TAYF is the best album of all time (it wasn’t), or that it didn’t come at a time when I would particularly love it (it did). I’m saying that, when you put those five guys in a room, THAT IS WHAT THEY’RE CAPABLE OF.

      i get that they were never going to make TAYF again, or probably make a better album than that. but if they’re going to make radio rock, MAKE IT WELL. The Foo Fighters are a fantastic example of this. Dave Grohl was responsible (partly) for fantastic albums in Nirvana, and in order for us to accept Foo Fighters music, we must accept that he’s never going to make another album like Nevermind or In Utero. I accept this. Does that make it impossible for me to enjoy In Your Honor or the acoustic album? No, because they’re GREAT RADIO ROCK ALBUMS. they are produced crisply but not mechanically or without flavor. They aren’t lyrically profound, but there is a sense that Grohl has pop sense enough not to repeat choruses time after time after time. Lazarra and Nolan show this album that what kept them going through their best albums was their emotional catharsis, covered with musical aggression that doesn’t translate well to Radio Rock.

      this album is New Again with a screamy and buzzy coat of paint. that, regardless of whatever you view about taking back sunday, is a travesty.

  • rory

    of all the 5 reviews ive read this is the most bashing of all the articles. its obvious you cant begin to compare or think that they are going to make another TAYF cd. That is a rare gem, but they dont try to make their old epic cd. this cd showed maturity and growth lyrically and melodically, in good and bad ways. There are a few dud songs, but overal the cd isnt bad, and written quite well. The article is highly inaccurate in bashing nolan, he’s the main reason this isnt as bad as their previous album- “there is no qualitative difference between Nolan and Matt Fazzi” basically speaks volumes that the writter has no idea what they are talking about new again and this cd arent written nor sound alike very much at all. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4V3NODM3F5QBSJTR46SQB6PN3Y Venessa W

    no one is expecting them to put out another tayf album. its the sound and the passion the people are looking for. i actually liked their last album which was way different than all their previous ones. but this, this is too much. its like a totally different band. almost completely unrecognizable. i feel the same way Sarah does..like my hero died.

  • tor

    Bleh wish I would’ve googled this before I bought the album. I agree. I really don’t care for this album and always find myself going back to Tell All Your Friends…