TAKING BACK SUNDAY
THE GRADE A
BOTTOM LINE The Long Island scene heroes’ rocking creativity overflows in nearly every direction.
When Taking Back Sunday’s classic lineup reunited in 2010, they seemed happy to just be playing together again.
On their new album, “Tidal Wave” (Hopeless), the Long Beach-based band have regained loftier ambitions, bending any number of rock genres to their wills to create their most diverse album yet while still maintaining a cohesive sound.
A lesser band would struggle balancing, over the course of an entire album, the galloping hard-core of “Death Wolf,” the Ramones-y punk of the title track and the crazy combination of moody Pearl Jam guitars and the rhythm and phrasing of an early Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers rocker on “You Can’t Look Back.” Taking Back Sunday covers all that ground extraordinarily well in the first three songs and then heads off in all sorts of directions.
The fragile, acoustic opening of “We Don’t Go in There” sounds more like singer Adam Lazzara’s beloved Bon Iver before it shifts into a powerful rock anthem with pretty guitar flourishes from Eddie Reyes. The jangly “Homecoming” is a thrilling twist on what could have been a Coldplay singalong, with John Nolan’s backing vocals roughing up the melody and Mark O’Connell’s inventive drumming turning it into something far more muscular. Even on “Holy Water,” which is in far more traditional Taking Back Sunday territory, Shaun Cooper’s loping bass gives the song a bit of swagger.
The entire band has stepped up musically on “Tidal Wave,” with Mike Sapone’s sharp production helping them prove they still have plenty to say and do. Though some corners of the internet want to focus on whether or not Taking Back Sunday was ever emo or not, the band sidesteps the entire argument by moving on to something else entirely, crafting one of the most ambitious rock albums of the year.