Happiness Is review by Taking Back Sunday

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  • Released: Mar 18, 2014
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 6.7 (18 votes)
Taking Back Sunday: Happiness Is
1

Sound — 8
Taking Back Sunday formed in the late 1990's, and released their first full length album in 2002. Since that time they've had some rather big lineup changes which were pretty much all reversed in 2010 when the band booted newer members to allow original founding members back into the band. This will be their sixth full-length release, but only their third full length release with this lineup. "Happiness Is" has 11 tracks and clocks in at just a little over 40 minutes. The songs "Flicker, Fade" (released January 2014) and "Stood a Chance" (released early March 2014) have been released as singles on the album.

The album opens up with a track titled "Preface," which clocks in at a minute and a half and is essentially a violin and cello with some vocal stuff going on near the end. The "real" opener on the album is the single, "Flicker, Fade," which is a high-energy mid-tempo track. "Stood a Chance," which is the second single, is basically carried by eighth note rhythm and is very catchy. "All the Way" has my favorite bass line from the entire album, but possibly just because it is mixed a little bit differently than on the rest of the album than it being a specifically genius bass line. "Beat Up Car" has an interesting twisty little guitar riff in the intro, and bass and drum driven verses. "It Takes More" is one of the slower tracks on the album, but it has a very sing-along type of chorus. "They Don't Have Any Friends" is one of the heavier tracks from the album, and it has some of my favorite guitar riffs and a more strident tempo. "Better Homes and Gardens" almost leans a little too far into the pop-punk genre for me at times, but the lyrics stayed interesting enough to keep me plugged in. "Like You Do" was almost immediately one of my favorite tracks when it started because I enjoy the way that this track is arranged and uses quiet and loud dynamics. "We Were Younger Then" has the most interesting vibe than any other track on the album, using a lot of contrast between the choruses and verses. The album closes out with the track "Nothing at All," which at first sounded a lot like something I would expect from Radiohead, but as the song goes on the band definitely puts their stamp on it. The album is mixed well, and the songs are engaging.

Lyrics — 7
Lead vocals are, of course, provided by Adam Lazzara and backup vocals are provided by John Nolan. Adam Lazzara has an interesting voice with enough character to make his identity show up but not so much that his voice sounds bad, basically. His vocal delivery ranges from an almost whisper to a full-fledged scream and his voice seems comfortable at both ends of the spectrum. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the single "Flicker, Fade": "If you should change your name/ I'll love you just the same/ and if you should run away/ I would save your place/ so you can go go go/ if you want to/ I wouldn't try and stop you/ I couldn't say I blame you/ Flicker Flicker Fade/ Destroy what you create/ and wonder why it always ends the same/ You wonder why it always ends the same."

Overall Impression — 7
Taking Back Sunday has really taken a turn for the better since going back to their (mostly) original lineup. Their sound is straightforward rock that is well-written and performed and that is their strength as a band. You can argue about this or that influence in their sound, which I wouldn't argue with, they definitely have some subtle and not-so-subtle influences from a few modern genres but they cook it all down to some straight forward rock or alt rock. My favorite tracks on the album are "Like You Do," "Flicker, Fade," "We Were Younger Then" and "All the Way." The closest I came to disliking any song from the album is probably "Better Homes and Gardens," but I got over that. This was a very enjoyable album for me.

18 comments sorted by best / new / date

    BwareDWare94
    Based on "Flicker, Fade" the vocalist has done a nice job of adjusting his singing style to the fact that he's older now, and should lose the nasally adolescent sounding bullshit. It's what I want Shane Told to eventually do. It's how Silverstein could get better.
    Nero Galon
    Hmm, haven't listened to Silverstein in a while... Latest thing I heard from them was that EP that had the song Replace You on it, was quite good.
    vppark2
    Def check out Their latest album. It'a my 2nd favorite album of theirs, right behind Shipwreck. I met them in November. Really nice guys.
    Nero Galon
    So I read the review, listened to the above songs and Better Homes and Gardens as well as some non-cancerous Youtube comments (rare). I will come out and say that I am only an occasional listener of TBA but rather enjoy my time listening. I like both Fred and John so no favouritism here. It seems that TBA sound has not changed much. Despite many people enjoying it, some have pointed out that some of it sounds recycled. I mean, i'm a relatively newcomer to TBA and 18 so they are still within my target audience age and I am sure they will please that teen audience... However these guys have been at it for many years now, I wonder if they've already become a nostalgia band for their old fan favourites and older fans won't connect with this album. Little complaint from me would be on the backing vocals. They seem to be less involved as I would have hoped and Adam's vocals are the center of it pretty much all the time from what i've heard.
    Holoogamooga
    As someone who bought Tell All Your Friends back in ~2003 (I'm 22 now), yeah, they've bcome a nostalgia band. They've had some good songs since, but I'm one of those guys that thinks they'll never top that first album. That said, this band's offspring, so to speak, have had some pretty solid offerings as well. I'm big on half of Brand New's catalog and most of Straylight Run's work.
    RHtonyflowCP
    Personally, I adore TBS. They're amongst my top ten. but this hasn't impressed me near enough as much as Louder Now, let alone WYWTB.
    mka12992
    I think this album destroys their last one, and may actually be my second favorite behind Where You Want To Be. Maybe it's just come out at the perfect time.
    The9
    The album before this to me was their best, this is a pale comparison
    HSMeans
    I felt that Better Homes and Gardens was one of the best on the album IMO
    MusicMan24
    I like this album, it's definitely not their best and it is a bit repetitive but it's a really good listen
    dom.spizzirri
    I was really into this album, I actually did a review for it myself through my university newspaper the Iowa State Daily. I was really into this record. Honestly I never thought they released a record that was particularly, and I am one of those guys who will say their worst record (not bad, just the one I like the least) is their first one. Personally I felt like this was a really good effort, and if this line up stays they're going to keep releasing some really good songs from later CDs.
    The9
    Very disappointed with this album, loved these guys more and more but this album just feels like rejects from the El Paso album.
    vppark2
    Yeah, this album is a bit repetitive. I think it's much better than their last 3 albums though.
    MyOwnDisaster1
    Firstly, to the writer of the article: Cooper wasn't a founding member. He joined in 2001 after Jessie Lacey left to form Brand New. Secondly, it seems that TBS hasn't been quite the same since the TAYF lineup came back. Though to be fair, I gave their self-titled another listen recently and I like it a lot better than I did when it first came out. Admittedly however, I did like their stuff a lot better when Fred was in the band. I thought WYWTB and Louder Now were their most solid albums (I never understood the hate that Louder Now got; I thought the song-writing was incredible on that album). Aside from that, I actually even enjoyed New Again. It wasn't the classic TBS sound, but I like the cleaned-up summery sound that Fazzi brought to the table. I'm not overly sure if I'm going to fully get into Happiness Is, but perhaps it'll grow on me like their self-titled did.