Sound — 8
Taking Back Sunday return in full force for the follow up to 2009's misstep "New Again". The record, simply named "Taking Back Sunday", is the first Taking Back Sunday record for bassist Shaun Cooper and guitarist/vocalist/pianist John Nolan since 2002's "Tell All Your Friends". The album opens with a full on rock song in "El Paso". Ironically channeling Brand New, the album takes off with probably the heaviest song TBS has written to date. It then slides into the uplifting sing along "Faith (When I Let You Down)". Present is a more mature sound, like that of "New Again", but with better and more focused songwriting. The album really shifts into gear with arguably the best song on the record "Best Places To Be A Mom". Nolan's complementary vocals and lead guitar are top notch here as well as in "Sad Savior", the ballad of sorts for the album. Taking two complete left turns from the previous songs, "Who Are You Anyways?" is a pop-rocker with a great bridge, and "Money (Let It Go)" displays some surf rock basslines and a fast and catchy chorus. "This Is All Now" is probably the most beautiful song on the album. I can not find a single complaint with this song. I've found myself listening to this song dozens of times already. One of the better TBS riffs of all time makes up the intro/chorus of "This Doesn't Feel A Thing Like Falling", and in a way is kind of the last up note for the album. The album finishes with "Since You're Gone" and "You Got Me", two solid rock songs but nothing better than the previous songs. The record wraps up with the slow ballad "Call Me In The Morning", a lackluster ballad with very uninspiring vocal melodies.
Lyrics — 10
I've always been an avid fan of Adam Lazzara's awkward vocal approach and writing style. His unique phrasing and snarling vocal style never seems tired or generic. John Nolan is back with his signature rough no nonsense approach to vocals. Nolan is one of my all time favorite vocalists and one I've always mimicked when singing in the car. His parts on the album may not be as memorable as the ones featured on "Tell All Your Friends", but are just as every bit as passionate and beautiful.
Overall Impression — 8
For anyone who had hopes of a "Tell All Your Friends" Pt. II once the Cooper/Nolan reunion was announced, you may need to go into this album with an open mind. It is certainly not a Pt. II to any of Taking Back Sunday previous work, but more of a further evolution of the band. While this is nothing short of a great album by the Long Islanders, it seems like the more mature sound they're progressing towards isn't really Taking Back Sunday. Maybe it's because of my attachment to "Tell All Your Friends" (one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time), but that is by no means me telling you not to enjoy this album. There is plenty for the casual and hardcore music fan o love here, but maybe not as much for a Taking Back Sunday purist.