Released: Jun 2, 2009
Genre: Alternative Rock / Melodic Hardcore
Label: Warner Bros.
Number Of Tracks: 11
With the addition of new guitarist Matt Fazzi, Taking Back Sunday fans can be assured that the edgier side of the Long Island band remains intact.
UG Team, on june 04, 2009 3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: In the eyes of Taking Back Sunday's members, their latest CD New Again is apparently much more than just their 4th studio album. If you take vocalist Adam Lazzara's word for it, the record marks the start of what feels like a completely new band. With Matt Fazz replacing Fred Mascherino on guitars, the band does have a slight change in its approach but it's far from being dramatic. Fans of Taking Back Sunday should still find a lot of the key elements still present on New Again, namely catchy melodies, skilled riffs, and layered harmonies. The CD is not flawless, but it still is packed with memorable and cleverly arranged songs.
Plenty of the focus will likely be upon new guitarist Fazzi and what qualities, good or bad, he is now bringing to Taking Back Sunday. Interestingly enough, there are more than a few times on the CD that Fazzi essentially becomes the highlight. He has an old school rock sensibility to his riff work, which comes through particularly in songs like Lonely, Lonely, Lonely, Swing, and Carpathia. Every single time that Fazzi lays down a hook, it gives the band an edgier feel on the whole. Sunday Catholic Knees isn't the hardest track among the bunch, but it also features some fantastic, deep guitar tones that become Fazzi's trademark by the end of the CD.
Taking Back Sunday slips briefly into the emo trap on Capital M, but it's obvious they are getting further and further away from that particular genre. They visit a wide variety of styles and tempos, with the title track being one of the standouts. The closing track Everything Must Go is also one of the best on the CD, and you could go as far to say that this is the epic tune on the tracklist. What starts out with a quiet, moody synth line builds into a poignant, but restrained verse and the eventual big, explosive chorus. Everything Must Go seems like it is tailored fit to be a cinematic theme song, and regardless of whether you consider that a good or bad thing, it's a track that relays plenty of emotion. // 8
Lyrics: Taking Back Sunday's ability to think outside the box has remained strong, with the lyrical content driving that point home. For example, you have to give the band credit for building a song around the theme/title of Sunday Catholic Knees, which although not quite as intriguing as one would hope, is still not your typical rock topic. There is certainly a good deal of introspective and/or emotion-driven themes, but the band usually manages to come up with a variety of metaphors or generally colorful language to hold your attention. // 8
Overall Impression: While there isn't a lot on New Again that pushes the boundaries of what has been done before in rock, there is still a lot to enjoy about the record. Recognition needs to be given to vocalist Adam Lazzara, whose smooth delivery also has the ability to morph into Axl Rose-like cries at a few key moments. New Again bounces between benign, yet hummable pop tunes and distortion-fueled rockers, and newcomer Matt Fazzi's input ensures that Taking Back Sunday should confidently explore their hard rock side a tad more often. Every single time he lays down a riff rather than the usual power chord or two, it increases the energy tenfold and matches the creativity that we usually hear within Lazzara's harmonies. // 8
Alexishxc1337, on june 04, 2009 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: I 2002's Tell All Your Friends put New York's Taking Back Sunday on the map as the frontrunners for the emo' scene. We'll let that be the only time that word gets brought up, dont worry. 2004 brought Where You Want To Be, their second album and first with guitarist/vocalist Fred Mascherino after the departure of John Nolan (see: Straylight Run). After Louder Now (2007), Mascherino, too, fled the band (see: The Color Fred), and they were forced to find yet another new guitarist.
Lineup changes are nothing new to this band, after dropping 2 bassists (one being Jesse Lacey; see: Brand New), a drummer, a lead vocalist and 2 lead guitarists; the band has made about as many changeups as Guns n' Rose. The one remaining member is rhythm guitarist and Taking Back Sunday founder Eddie Reyes, the Axl Rose to his Guns, minus all the negatives that come along with being Axl Rose. In 2008, the search commenced and was finished rather quickly. Now up to bat is Matt Fazzi, who fills his role perfectly, and blends so well its almost as if hes been secretly practicing with these guys for years. Fittingly, this first outing with Fazzi is titled New Again. The album was produced by David Kahne, who also produced such works as The Strokes' First Impressions Of Earth and Sublime's self titled album. All factual information aside, it's time for me to be daring:
I like this album more than Tell All Your Friends.
Maybe it's the fact that I was a mere 10 year old when TAYF was big? Could be. Most likely.
Yeah. But after subjectively listening to TAYF multiple times after its peak, I am conclusive about this. Though I love its raw sound and John Nolan's vocals, there were just too many things I dislike about it, the main being the use of Head Club as the closer instead of the unreleased track, The Ballad Of Sal Villanueva. Had Ballad not existed, this wouldn't matter, because of Head Club's sheer power as a closer itself. The other, and I'm bound to break some hearts with this, being the first half of Ghost Man On Third. That's a story for another day though. But were being New Again, right?.
The album is quite the departure from TAYF, due to the band's maturity both age-wise and musically. In a recent online interview with MTV, front man Adam Lazzara says, That first record, I was like 18. I'm no longer 18. As far as lyrically, as you grow, you come across a lot of different challenges, and writing like she hurt me! is just doing a big disservice to myself. And a big goal is to keep growing and changing. I don't understand why bands try to write the same album over and over. And they certainly avoided this sophomoric trend. // 9
Lyrics: Lyrically, New Again is Lazzara's most simplistic work. The lyrics are incredibly straightforward, save for a few metaphors here and there (The flower tongue wilts with too much sun from Lonely, Lonely), but they're some of the most honest lyrics he's done. However, the simplicity can sometimes drag songs down. In the rather lackluster drug lament Where My Mouth Is, he repeats the adage of I put my money where my mouth is a few too many times, and it also contains a snoozer chorus: Yeah I had it all, was sitting on top of the world, but I threw it away just to prove that I could. The album is littered with decent enough lines (Lover lover tell me this: passion over consequence, when did the latter take the lead? from Swing, a personal favorite) to keep lyric fiends fairly satisfied.
Adam's vocals on New Again are some of the lowest they've ever been. He, for the most part, refrains from the higher, passionate vocals he's made us so accustomed to, and replaces them with the slightly more aggressive vocals reminiscent of songs like Twenty Twenty Surgery or What's It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?. This isn't to say his vocals aren't passionate, but he definitely shows glimpses that he can still sing like old Taking Back Sunday, and it's most apparent in the album's closer Everything Must Go. The song is one of the more personal songs they've written, and there's something in the way Lazzara shrieks in the bridge The love you had we couldn't leave, the past that we were stuck between, beside myself I start to think, Lord what have I done?', you know he's one hundred percent meaningful, and you know he's still got the ability. Not to mention he does his best Daryl Palumbo impression in the breakdown of Catholic Knees, which is bonus points. // 7
Overall Impression: New Again is one of those albums you may be reluctant to listen to, simply because of the band's ever-changing direction. The always evolving Taking Back Sunday does just that; change and evolve. This album, to me, is a step up from Louder Now, especially in the drum department, and is far more tightly produced, the sound being somewhat of a mix of WYWTB and LN. Where You Want To Be still ranks as my favorite Taking Back Sunday album, but this one is very very close behind, surpassing Tell All Your Friends and keeping Louder Now at the bottom of the totem pole.
If Taking Back Sunday knows one thing, it's how to properly close an album. Whether it's the repeated Don't call my name out your window, I'm leaving of Head Club, (I know I gave that song some flak for not being my closer of choice, it's still a damn good one in it's own right), the chant of Tonight won't make a difference of Slowdance On the Inside, the swirling noise build in I'll Let You Live, or the sheer passion in Everything Must Go, each album comes to quite the conclusion. Key tracks like Cut Me Up Jenny, Lonely, Lonely, Carpathia, and Everything Must Go make for an extremely enjoyable album with tons of longevity, and allows for multiple plays through (thanks, last.fm). New Agai marks a new era of Taking Back Sunday, one you may love or hate, but one you have to appreciate.
They've been daring enough to try and change with each album they put out, and have succeeded yet again. // 8