Taking Back Sunday - Tidal Wave (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Taking Back Sunday

Tidal Wave (2016)

Hopeless Records

Taking Back Sunday is a band I've aged with with each release. Tell All Your Friends and Where You Want To Be caught me in the high school/university period in my life and struck every chord of teenage angst that I had in me. Adam Lazzara was everything I wanted to be. Louder Now came along and eventually represented that shift into young adulthood. It started erasing the concept of that pop-punk paintbrush associated with TBS. The themes and lyrical content got more heavier and simply speaking, real. It was no longer about coming of age, getting drunk, football games and nonchalant breakups but hinged more on the actions, consequences and the direct implications on our futures. The last three records took this direction to hear even more, flowing along the lines of mainstream radio. Tidal Wave is the culmination of these transitional years, ringing out ever-so-loudly with an alternative, hard-rock edge. One that's comfortable in it's own skin and quite frankly, never looking back. Perfect? Far from but still, one that continues to keep warm that special place TBS will always hold in my heart.

The album clocks in at 48 minutes with an average of four minutes per track so you know it's not about those short bursts of infectious energy that TAYF offered us in its youthful optimism and exuberance. Most of the songs point towards the likes of "Everything Must Go" and throwback a lot to the aptly titled New Again -- dramatic, scared yet looking forward in life. Lazzara surprised me with how great he sounds throughout, spitting that Johnny Cash attitude at every corner as seen with "Tidal Wave"  -- which sees them pay homage to the likes of The Ramones, The Clash and Billy Idol. It's one of the few punk gems on tap which is a stark contrast to "You Can't Look Back" whose melody almost identically rides the same vibe of "Boys of Summer". They played the record in full at The Metro in Chicago that Friday night in a Fest aftershow and it sucked not being able to get in despite the label even trying to help. I would have loved to hear these perfomed live. 

Especially with the rare shades of old TBS arising on the ballad "I Felt It Too" - slow, crooning and warm -- which eventually builds to a typical loud finale. Formulaic when it comes to this band but still, would have made a great closer. Shocked they didn't have it last. Rolling on, "Holy Water" probably stands out as my favorite off the new album. It cuts loose and emphasizes to me what's their most guitar-elaborative album to date. They sacrificed a lot of John Nolan's interplay on the mic but they make up with more riffs, little solos tucked in here and there and driving rhythms to compensate for losing the three-pronged chords of 2002-2004. By the time the record ends, it's still a tough appraisal though. How do you assess TBS with such a high standard set by their first two records. Objectivity remains the key but at the end of the day but it ain't easy. So many of their pop-punk characteristics have been shed but despite that, safe to say their music will always be anthemic and fizzing with vibrancy. Ready for radio airplay. Like I said, it's not easy to judge or assess but once you can put the old aside, it'll register decently. A few tracks down the middle feel a bit phoned in and they could have mixed it up some more, throwing in some of that old-school punk icing but they're clearly all about charting new waters. I still can't let go of the past but you never know, Tidal Wave could just end up being what sweeps you away.