Taking Back Sunday are a peculiar band, with three albums of largely similar emotional rock with only mild variations in sound to differentiate each album from each other. Their last offering, Louder Now, took a slightly harder edge and proved to be their most successful album to date. Rightly so, as the songwriting—while not entirely different from previous works—had definitely become more sophisticated, and tracks such as “My Blue Heaven” had a real emotional core.
Last year, key member Fred Mascherino departed to concentrate on his own solo project (the unforgivably awful the Color Fred). The band regrouped with new vocalist Matthew Fazzi and began working on their new album, the aptly titled New Again (the band had been a new prospect once before, following the departure of Mascherino’s predecessor, Straylight Run’s John Nolan).
New Again follows the Taking Back Sunday route of slightly tweaking the band’s sound without doing too much. Instead of the full scale assault that was Louder Now‘s opener, “What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?”, the band open with the title track, a lilting summery number that serves as a fine introduction to the album. It’s followed by “Sink Into Me”, a similar track made noticeable by the liberal use of group chanting “Hey!”; it’s terribly clichéd, but that has always been a part of Taking Back Sunday’s charm. The first real curve ball comes with “Lonely, Lonely”, which features an aggressive riff and some demented-sounding vocals from the usually caramel voiced Adam Lazarra.
The unique aspects of New Again stem from the use of some different instrumentation, some soft synth parts, and keyboards as used on the Goo Goo Dolls-like “Where My Mouth Is”. “Cut Me Up Jenny” is also a noticeable track due to the jarring rhythm during the verses that begin to annoy before actually providing the hook of the song.
The song writing on New Again is as consistent as Taking Back Sunday have ever produced. Adam Lazarra proves himself yet again an incredibly versatile vocalist, and he was written some of his strongest melodies to date. Lyrically, the album veers from ambiguous clichés for which this genre is renowned, to scathing rants about his ex loves (he broke up with Eisley’s Chauntelle DuPree during the recording process). “Carpathia” is the highlight, a stunning song with a chorus that refuses to go quietly, and which has a generally fresh feel. The last song on the album, “Everything Must Go”, continues the band’s tradition of the epic grandstand finish a la “Slow Dance on the Inside”.
They may never achieve huge mainstream recognition like My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy, but Taking Back Sunday should not be taken for granted. They have produced another solid album that cements their reputation as one of the most genuinely affecting and consistent bands in the current scene.