There is great cynicism towards Taking Back Sunday– easy targets, drama kings- all are part of the conjecture volleyed towards them in the many years since their breakthrough 2002 album Tell All Your Friends. A band burdened by such weight would normally crumble- and it looked like they did when members Shaun Cooper and John Nolan left just a year later. Yet through the albums that followed, most notably the follow up Where You Want To Be and good portions of their major label debut Louder Now, the band proved every bit capable of turning any/all of the drama into the kind of emotionally histrionic songwriting they’re known for.
That is the crux of Taking Back Sunday– jagged edge rock guitars, post-hardcore sensibilities and that flair for the lyrical dramatics found in etched in your high school notebook over and over again. After seemingly hitting the skids with New Again in 2009, the band’s latest (and first with both Nolan and Cooper back in the lineup) fits somewhere in proximity to Louder Now. Its inexactness comes from much of the songs present as being some of the best material they’ve done since 2002/2004 but with the kind of sonic production that came with Louder Now.
A good many of the songs here rely on soaring choruses (the great single “Faith (When I Let You Down)”), biting dramatics (“Who Are You Anyway”?) and the kind of flair they exhibited in great tracks from their past like “This Photograph If Proof (I Know You Know)”. In fact, much of the album is like one “This Photograph” after another, which in the case of Taking Back Sunday, is a really good thing. Taking Back Sunday strips away the narrow scope of New Again and amplifies the core of what made them who they are into 10 (of the 11) succinct tracks. Only the opening “El Paso” seems like a slight stretch; relying instead on a messy, frenzied palette (look guys, you don’t need to show you “rock hard” at this point).
Sounding like a band truly comfortable in their skin once again, Taking Back Sunday is terrific, proof that growing up musically is terribly overrated. It’s great to hear this band old again.