Taking Back Sunday

Tidal Wave

Written by: TL on 12/11/2016 13:32:56

Considering how long the narrative was that Adam Lazzara and John Nolan would never get along again, it's sort of funny to sit now, five years after Taking Back Sunday reunited their debut album line-up, and they've been steadily together ever since. Both touring with their legacy and creating new material with seemingly few bumps on the road, they arrived this year at album number seven, "Tidal Wave", which arrives casually and confidently without any real story lines besides "here's a new Taking Back Sunday album, check it out".

The record features twelve tracks, clocking in at 47 minutes, and as usual the Long Island quintet's 'emo-rock' doesn't allow itself to be too easily defined or referenced. Their sound isn't very New York, or at least it doesn't seem like it to non-American ears - More like the miles and miles on the road in the band's seventeen years has made them take on more general Americana vibes, which they coat onto songs that marry anthemic rock traditions to the punk rock energy and tempos they've carried with them since their early days. So while sticking with the same old comparisons to Jimmy Eat World, The Early November and so on makes some sense, more new school listeners might also find the sound not far from names like Pentimento, Hotelier or Restorations.

Where most prior TBS albums have had some pretty definitive moments where you felt like "this is one of the hits", though, "Tidal Wave" flows more organically, and sort of unburdened. As if the band has found a good state of being, embraced what they're good at and not so good at, and just let the songwriting flow and stop fairly spontaneously, then sequencing things and chaining together transitions between songs to make for a warm and welcoming listen that feels like an uninterrupted stream with some surges here and there.

"You Can't Look Back", "Call Come Running" and "Holy Water" are probably the most obviously catchy "surges", while songs like "Fences" and "Tidal Wave", actually make you wonder if there are hints of political skepticism entering the lyrical picture. "There was nothing but rain for days and days, still no one was ready for the flood", sings Lazzara in the former, right after mentioning "borders drawn in blood", while "Tidal Wave" romps ahead with a retro Ramones-like punk style, circling the idea that forces beyond our control are going to get us all some day. Here Taking Back Sunday sound almost like pre-transformation Against Me: There's a similar sense of discontent hidden behind the melodies that drive each subsequent rock show banger forward.

These notions never become too overt, however. Taking Back Sunday are, as ever, more of a rock'n'roll band that is about exorcising sentiments, seemingly somewhat cognizant of their fleeting nature. A spontaneous emotional voice, that doesn't dwell on things long enough to assume the role of revolutionary or rallying flag. That's the sort of record "Tidal Wave" seems like - as if it mainly wants you to feel that state of being an individual adrift in strange times, trying to navigate events that carry you forward while fixating on the close ones that matter. It doesn't presume to offer solutions, it just provides catharsis for your frustrations and concerns.

Overall, the record shakes out in a strangely ambivalent way. As if Taking Back Sunday has leveled out, and there's enjoyment in hearing how they seem to accept where they're at instead of forcing attempts at proving something. Yet at the same time, there's a knowledge that songs on here don't build up and culminate as strongly as ones the band has penned earlier. The record is full of welcoming moments, yet not of defining ones, meaning you could argue that it's one of the weaker ones in the group's collection. But it's still an encouraging sign of life that inspires continued interest in the group as they continue to grow into the veteran part of their career.

Download: You Can't Look Back, Call Come Running, Holy Water
For The Fans Of: Desaparecidos, Pentimento, The Hotelier, Restorations
Listen: facebook.com/TakingBackSunday

Release date 16.09.2016
Hopeless Records

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