To brand Taking Back Sunday’s sophomore release with a cliché “hotly anticipated” simply does not do justice to the band or its fans. Where You Want To Be has materialized into one of the best-selling independent releases ever, as fans continue to support the band with fervor and astounding enthusiasm, while the band stuns with awesome live performances and an admirable work ethic. It also helps that the album is worth the brutal anticipation. While the band has endured many a well-publicized dramatic set-back, the new record does not dwell on the past, instead representing growth and change without losing focus.
Taking Back Sunday’s appeal has always been in the lyrics, which relay back and forth like a very emotional ping pong match and resonate deeply to the hearts of the devastated, confused, remorseful, and desperate. The words are ambiguous enough that they can be interpreted any way the listener wants, perfectly describing toxic relationships and buried emotions. The lyrics can be read, analyzed, and posted on a Live Journal. Lazzara’s sincere delivery puts him on the level of the listener, letting them know that he is not very different from the kid in the crowd. When he sings “its love…make it hurt,” listeners feel it.
Contrast and the lack of a set formula keep Where You Want To Be interesting and put the band’s range on display. Lazzara wails “Just who do you think you are?” over thundering bass lines that make “The Union” worthy of playing at an ungodly volume in traffic. Angry creams then suddenly give in to the soft and subdued “New American Classic” mid-album. The acoustic ballad is a surprising departure from all of the band’s other album tracks, slowing down for four and a half minutes of epic melancholia. “Number Five With A Bullet” would make a great single, while “Little Devotional” is sure to be a fan favorite in the vein of “There’s No ‘I’ in Team.”
The band’s current lineup is musically tighter, adding classically trained Breaking Pangaea alum Fred Mascherino on guitar and backing vocals, and stirring Grammy winning bassist Matt Rubano into the mix. Improvement isn’t limited to the newbies: Adam Lazzara’s vocals are more melodic, Mark O’Connell’s drumming is more complex, and Eddie Reyes’ riffing is more powerful. Otherwise, Where You Want To Be cannot be compared to 2002’s Tell All Your Friends; Taking Back Sunday is now a different band, with different strengths and different chemistry than during the Nolan-era. Two years and two new band members later, it would be absolutely ridiculous to put out an album similar to their debut. Where You Want To Be is distinctly Taking Back Sunday while optimistically gazing into the future and not looking back.