Sound — 8
This is Taking Back Sunday before they were Taking Back Sunday. Before Adam Lazzara was leading man for the band he played bass and backup vocals as a man by the name of Anthonio Longo sang with John Nolan and Adam Lazzara singing behind him. Recorded in 2001, it's roughly 24 minutes of raw sounding emo, pop-punk and indie rock. Longo's singing skills are admirable but not nearly as distinctive as Adam Lazzaras. Musically the band delivers something that most of the bands in their genre don't have, distinctive musical talent and ability. Respectable harmonies and playing can be heard throughout the record as well as a musical sincerity that is rarely heard from bands today. The rough mixing and almost shotty production only further this feeling it's something that can be as easily admired as it can be tossed aside. The duet style of singing between main singer and secondary is rarely heard in this record, and when you do hear Lazzara or Nolan singing they're only singing behind that Longo is singing. Still, the music itself remains interesting and sincere without forcing itself on you. Leading up to "Tell All Your Friends" this album makes a clean and definite bridge towards it.
Lyrics — 9
Taking Back Sundays lyrics have evolved through their three main albums and the evolution really started here. The single celled organism of Taking Back Sunday; a building block if you will. The lyrics are straight forward in most of the songs and although not very original Longo sings them in a very sincere manner and in a tone that isn't sung through the nose or is very whiney, which can be heavily appreciated for an album from this era of pop-punk/emo. Lazzara and Nolan occasionally make an appearance as they scream or complete a phrase behind Longo. Occasionally you do get lyrical brilliance from the album such as "One Way Conversation". The sincerity of Longo is what I appreciate the most about him and he contributes more then his part to the record.
Overall Impression — 8
Making a comparison between this Taking Back Sunday record and the Lazzara lead ones is essentially just comparing apples and oranges. The musical direction changed almost complete after Longo left and Lazzara took over, but this album is still as pleasant as any other Taking Back Sunday album. A musician can appreciate the complexity of the music itself for the genre it is while the hooks and singing remain pleasant and catchy to most listeners. At times, the feeling of the music can seem crowded or overdone but mostly it remains a sincere, simple, straight forward pop-punk record that gave way for "Tell All Your Friends"
Lost and Found-The opener on the album, and a very good one to start with. An almost droning clean guitar section breaks way for fairly heavy guitar work and vocal melodies that sing lyrics of puppylove and affection towards a parted lover, yet with little to no-angst involved. The song itself is an enjoyable listen that is pleasant from beginning to end.
The Things We'll Never Know-This song I didn't particularly care for. The entire song seems rushed and Longos vocals clash with the rest of the song and they're not sang quite right. Lyrically the song isn't anything special either.
Eleven-The intro to this song is something of beautiful simplicity. Harmonics played in a sleepy and almost hypnotizing fashion. This is probably my favorite song on the album. Longos voice is almost as hypnotic as the music itself and it's pleasant to hear as the song escalates into a heavier song. Lyrically, Longo seems to question his lovers reasons for departing. Again, sincere with little angst from Longo. The solo from the song is as delicious as it is simple. From start to end it is an amazing song.
Go On-This song is probably the most complex song on the album, both musically and lyrically. Lazzara makes a stern appearance in the pre-chorus and the chorus. His voice sounds so much younger then from his more recent albums and it's amazing to see how his voice has progressed through time. This one contains memorable hooks, complex song structures and vocals that make you empathize with the singer. Another favorite.
One Way Conversation-Starting out with a bouncy beat and catchy lyrics the song progresses into a fun little song about prejudice and the will to overcome adversity. At times, the multiple vocals don't quite mesh together right but it never becomes unlistenable.
Summer Stars-The riff for this song is just so fun and catchy. It hooks you in almost immediately. Longo sings softly during the chorus about recollections of past love(s) and the way he sings makes you empathize with him again. The chorus is driving and fairly intense but Lazzara and Longo work off each other very well and it creates a pleasant effect. A great closer.
Overall, most Taking Back Sunday fans would find this as a very enjoyable listen. Although I would not recommend this album as the album for someone to try Taking Back Sunday with, as it does not fairly represent the true sound of Taking Back Sunday.