“Its love, its love, its love, make it hurt”
In 2004, when I was seventeen, I fell in love. At first, I thought it was a girl. Years later, I understand that it wasn’t the girl, she just happened to come along when I fell in love with a little rock band from Long Island called Taking Back Sunday. You may have heard of them. Once the poster boys for the “emo” scene, now they're just five cool dudes with families putting out solid rock records. I never cared what box others would try to fit them into—t didn’t matter to me. Their music, whatever lineup of the band throughout the years, gave me something to hold on to and connect with. They helped define me and I’ll say this while I’m here, whatever people tell you about what “defines” you… they’re wrong. You choose what defines you… we are but a conglomeration of thousands of idiosyncrasies, interests, and patterns. So yes, a band and their music, can be part of what defines you. This year they put out their seventh LP, Tidal Wave.
The first track, "Death Wolf", sets the pace for what will be another quintessential (something they keep redefining) Taking Back Sunday album. On this one they do what they’ve always done best, raw, adrenaline-pumping rock songs, rivaling past opening numbers from past albums such as “What's it feel like to be a ghost” and “El Paso."
This is when things get exciting. "Tidal Wave", the title track sends us into refreshing new territory for the band. As they have in the past, this one proves that Taking Back Sunday doesn’t have to turn it up to 11 to melt your face off. They let the rhythm do the talking. A fast groove that makes you wanna dance. It is, in the simplest of ways put, a Ramones-esque anthem, but imagine a Tom Petty or John “Friggin Cougar” Mellencamp belting out catchy existentialist phrases like “when the guns are drawn outside your door, will you call for peace or will you join the war?/ whats gonna happen on your dying day, will you turn to dirt or find the pearly gates?/Oh no, no, no you don’t know."
“You Can’t Look Back” may very well be the most evolved Taking Back Sunday song in the band's history. Again, going places they’ve teased us with before, but now going there with guns blazing. Vocally, Adam Lazzara finds his element as a master folk rock crooner. Lyrically, its proof that angst doesn’t die, it just grows up. This theme continues to run throughout the album.
“I felt it too”, “Homecoming”, and “I'll find a way to make it what you want” are ballads of the “back porch listening, star gazing, life-affirming” type. At the very least, gorgeously written songs.
“Call Come Running” and “In the Middle of it All” are timeless, straightforward rock songs that remind me of early “The Cars” or “Cheap Trick."
“All Excess” is my personal favorite. The harmonies are some of the best in the Taking Back Sunday catalog and being a huge “Cure” fan I can appreciate Adams (intentional or not) inner Robert Smith coming through while beautifully growling, “I felt dirty and I didn’t know why."
Turning thirty is exactly how I imagined it when I was seventeen. Terrifying. If there is one song on this album that can totally encapsulate that feeling, it’s the perfectly subtle “Fences”. A chorus in which Adam belts “I wanna hear you say it’ll be ok/I wanna hear you say it’s not too late”…. Sometimes that’s all we want, isn’t it?
As long as Taking Back Sunday is around, I will forever be seventeen going on thirty…. And that for me is ok.
I believe Taking Back Sunday have given up trying to figure themselves out as both individuals and as a band. That, to me, is a beautiful thing. To be able to focus on where you are now and who you are now. Tidal Wave is a glimpse into what the band is now. In the music and the words you can feel how at home they are with that.
"You, you should be happy, because you've got people, people that love you"