Sound — 9
Bayside is a band that's been evolving from day one. At first, lyrics we're a bit cliched and "emo" but there were high points to every song. They've developed a sense of musicianship over theie last three LPs, too. If you listen to simple structure and musicianship in "Masterpiece" off Sirens and Condolences (which is still an awesome song) and listen to the 1st track on this cd, "The Walking Wounded" you can really appreciate the strides they've made over the years. O' Shea's guitar playing is ridiculously tight and solid. He shines in solos on "The Walking Wounded" and "Choice Hops and Bottled Self-Esteem". They may not be the most innovative solos but they fit perfectly in the songs they represent. Anthony Raneri's voice is one of the most distinctive in music today and he really let's loose with his trademark emotional wail on this cd. Chris Guglielmo does a great job playing for a band who just lost a brother in John "Beatz" Holohan. His drumming makes me feel like he's proving to the world he wants to be in Bayside and will try his best to honor the spot John left behind. The drums are very tight and aggressive, I'm no drummer but they complement the songs perfectly. All in all, the sound of this album is a leap for Bayside, it is less dark but seemingly heavier this time around. The addition of breaks in the music and utilizing different sounds (i.e. the woodwind in the title track) is welcome and fresh in this type of music. It's not so innovative but it doesn't need to be it's damn near perfect and should make any Bayside fan proud.
Lyrics — 8
Anthony Raneri writes amazing lyrics. They are sometimes simple and to the point, other times it takes a little thinking to get your meaning out of the song. Either way, the lyrics on this album continue to impress. The use of repetition, the unique flowing way Anthony sings fits so well and doesn't let me down throughout the album. This CD is definitely hopeful and less dark than previous albums. It is still full of emotion and words that tug at your heart strings. What makes Bayside so special is their lyrics are something everyone can relate to but aren't as obvious or cliche as the lyrics of a modern Wal-Mart country song. The lyrics on this shine are very impressive. My favorite line so far: "Should thank your lucky stars/For all the times you've been ashamed/You'll learn more from the harder times/Than times in vain" from Choice Hops and Bottled Self-Esteem."
Overall Impression — 9
Bayside is lumped into the emo genre usually. The truth is, Bayside is a band that sounds like themselves, they don't rip off other bands or make songs that follow the national trend. From Anthony's signature voice to O'Shea's ripping guitar work Bayside is on a level most contemporary bands aren't at. They have transcended the "emo" genre and will, hopefully, continue to amaze at live performances and with future works. The best tracks on here, to me, are: "The Walking Wounded," "Duality," "Choice Hops," "Landing Feet First." Every song on here, though, is worth many listens. If this CD were stolen, I'd find the person and kick their ass and take it back. If I lost it, I'd have someone beat MY ass then go get it again. I hope everyone supports Bayside as they gain exposure, continue to shine and stay, above all, good, humble guys.