Taking Back Sunday - Happiness Is (Cover Artwork)

Taking Back Sunday

Taking Back Sunday: Happiness IsHappiness Is (2014)
Hopeless Records

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:

Contributed by: thepopeofchili-townthepopeofchili-town
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I'm going to let you in on a little secret- Somewhere around the time of 2009's New Again, after most of their original fanbase (and original members) had moved on to other things, Taking Back Sunday became a FANTASTIC pop-rock band. Even when the group's "classic" Tell All Your Friends lineup reuni.
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I'm going to let you in on a little secret- Somewhere around the time of 2009's New Again, after most of their original fanbase (and original members) had moved on to other things, Taking Back Sunday became a FANTASTIC pop-rock band. Even when the group's "classic" Tell All Your Friends lineup reunited for their 2011 self-titled album, the group stayed the chorus they had begun on their previous record and made a mature, challenging and tuneful rock album, containing some of their most aggressive material ever ("El Paso), as well as their most melodic ("Call Me in the Morning.") In contrast, Happiness Is, the group's second full-length release since their reformation can be seen as a bit of return to form, which will inevitably be great news for a large section of their fanbase, but will come as a disappointment for fans that appreciated the more adventurous two prior records.

Unlike their three prior full-lengths, which all commenced with uptempo rockers, Happiness Is begins with an short orchestral preface titled, appropriately enough, "Preface." It's a serviceable enough introduction for the album's first proper track "Flicker Fade", but it's not anything that warrants repeat listens. "Flicker Fade" itself however is one of the record's strongest tracks. A ballad in the tradition of "MakeDamnSure" and New Again's "Where My Mouth Is", it's a curious choice as an opener, but its anthemic singalong chorus will surely see it become a live favorite. "Stood a Chance" in comparison has a much more old-school TBS vibe. Here it becomes apparent that this record is a product of the Tell All Your Friends lineup. It's a catchy enough track, although it feels like a huge step backwards from what the group were pulling off on their last couple full-lengths.

The biggest issue with Happiness Is is what can be perceived as a lack of energy. While there are several moments that bring to mind what the group were doing on Tell All Your Friends and Where You Want to Be stylistically, the record's momentum is slowed by a slew of midtempo ballad-like tracks through the middle. A return to form would have been welcome if the group had spent more time recreating "Timber Wolves at New Jersey" than "Ghost Man on Third." Even bouncier rock tracks like "We Were Younger Then" are marked with frustratingly mellow introductions before fully kicking into high gear. Towards the end of the record, "Like You Do" feels like a breath of fresh air just because the energy levels are increased a tad.

Happiness Is has some great tracks, but ultimately is probably the group's weakest showing overall. No matter which era of Taking Back Sunday you prefer, they've done most of the things here better previously. The group seem to be having some sort of directional identity crisis. Their are more traces of their early work here than we've heard in recent years, but without the energy that made us fall in love in the first place. Worth a listen for fans, but keep your expectations modest.


People who liked this also liked:
Green Day - American IdiotThursday - A City by the Light DividedThursday - WaitingThursday - Full CollapseMy Chemical Romance - The Black ParadeTaking Back Sunday - Tell All Your FriendsFall Out Boy - Take This to Your GraveThursday - Full CollapseLittle Big League - Tropical JinxFront Porch Step - Whole Again [EP]

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Blackjaw_ (April 27, 2014)

It sounds like Our Lady Peace's "Gravity".

Vxj154 (April 26, 2014)

Cylan. You'll probs like at least a couple of the songs so if you deem that worth the money then buy it. They put up a free stream though so if that's still up or even not just listen to some tracks on youtube. If you liked Call Me in the Morning from the previous album then you'll probably like this one. If you're just into their 'heavier' songs then no.

Cyan (April 26, 2014)

Hey guys, Huge Old TBS Fan here. Now my question is... Should I buy/give a listen to this record? Is it worth it?
Thanks for your opinions!

megafpf5k (April 26, 2014)

I'm sorry but I don't hear 'Tell All Your Friends' in this album. Its definitely still the matured TBS from New Again and the S/T. Beat Up Car is my fav next to Flicker Fade (sorry twstdbydsn). Beat Up Car has a chilling chorus harmony reminiscent of Brand New. Decent album, I probably would have went with the 4 star, not a 5.

Vxj154 (April 25, 2014)

Finally people who like New Again. Most TBS fans love the new stuff and for some reason always place New Again within whichever bracket of TBS they liked the least. For me 1. New Again 2. Where You Want to Be 3. Louder Now 4. Taking Back Sunday 5. Tell All Your Friends 6. Happiness Is. Actually Up From the Ashes could easily go 4th.
I like 2 songs from Happiness Is - Better Homes and Gardens, and Nothing at All. The former of which took ages to grow on me simply because of Adam's grating new vocals. Stood a Chance and Like You Do are painful. So is most of the album. Songs like Flicker Fade are just really dull. Lyrically the songs aren't as good. Not very creative but dressed up as 'mature'. Not a big fan of the Nolan albums, even though I'd say they're different enough for it to not just be 1 style I'm not into. It sucks that their main fan base loves the stuff so much because live it will always be my least favourite stuff played, and only 1 song from New Again is I'm really lucky. Not to sound all emo but similar thing with The Used. Fanbase's least favourite album is Artwork, which is my favourite.

twstdbydsn (April 25, 2014)

This album bored me to tears. Flicker Fade and Beat Up Car might be the worst things they have ever done.

Blackjaw_ (April 25, 2014)

This was good for the first few listens but got stale quickly. I've never been a HUGE fan of this band, but I enjoy most of their stuff.

1. New Again
2. Tell All Your Friends
3. Louder Now
4. Happiness Is
5. Taking Back Sunday
6. Where You Want To Be

renaldo69 (April 24, 2014)

I don't think it's a lack of energy -- I think it's Adam especially winding down as a more mature lyricist/writer (albeit his vocals are pretty shot from all them years of 'rock star' syndrome). It's like Thursday where TBS' first two records were something pretty special but what came after were more in tune with their changing personalities and changing times.

This is pretty decent but most of all, a good mix of the really awesome TBS and the recent TBS. Good middle ground imo. Odd that "Flicker Fade" wasn't the closer cuz it's the archetypal huge song they usually end on.

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