Taking Back Sunday - Where You Want To Be (Cover Artwork)

Taking Back Sunday

Where You Want To Be (2004)


It wasn't too long ago that I was thinking that Taking Back Sunday could do no wrong. A guilty pleasure of mine, their emo-post-popcore (or whatever you want to call it) sound struck a chord with me, and after being introduced to an advanced copy of "Tell All Your Friends," I was hooked. I saw them in concert a few times, enjoyed it all, thought they were a great band with amazing potential for taking the sound of early Saves The Day and driving it through the head with a hammer, bringing more edge and bite to it.

Enter the drama machine. Although the 'official' details are never released, guitarist/singer/songwriter John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper leave. I assume, at this point, the band is dead. I guess they proved me wrong... to some extent.

As it turns out, the band is very much alive and have produced a valiant sophomore effort with ex-members of Breaking Pangea attempting to fill in the gaping holes left in the lyrics and music. And I am using "attempting" very, very loosely.

The very first few seconds of the album scream of overproduction. While the production on "Tell All Your Friends" was noticable, it actually helped the dual vocals, equalizing them very well with the guitars and amazing drums. This time around, no such luck. The introductory track is a perfect mock up for what the rest of the album will contain: painfully bad, overly repetative lyrics trying too hard to be written by someone who did not write them ("Go on, just say it/You need me like a bad habit"), an overly obvious verse/chorus/verse/chorus/breakdown/chorus formula, poppy and radio-ready guitars which don't carry half the same melody and individuality as what they used to, and the often off key and some times just plain awful ("New American Classic") vocals of Adam Lazzara.

I will repeat this now, before the "Oh, you're biased" comments ensue... I was a huge fan of this band.

"Bonus Mosh Part 2" is one of the stronger tracks on the album, not falling too much into the failures of repetition and simplicity, with a unique duality of guitar work. Unfortunately, it's all downhill from there.

By the time the aforementioned "New American Classic" begins with an acoustic guitar, the album is already a simple formula, to which an intervention is needed. So, what better way than an acoustic, Dashboard Confessional-esque chart topper? Nice try. "New American Classic" has to be one of the worst songs I've ever heard, especially for the now booming acousticapellaemo genre. Such a bold title for such a letdown of a song.

"One Eighty By Summer" is probably my second favorite track on the album. The first minute and a half is painful to listen to, the song structure is normal and the key/guitar/notes are just plain awful and the lyrics are subpar. However, the breakdown and ending of the song remind me of the days when this band had members with talent, a nice buildup and explosion at the end, good production on layered vocals. Nothing outstanding, however on this disc, it sounds pretty good.

The next two songs drag through, with the introduction to "Number Five With A Bullet" making me wonder if the band could have written these songs in keys that Lazzara's voice could actually hit. Throughout the album, he seems uninterested, almost as if he knows he's singing the next big emo disaster.

And now, the grand finale. "...Slowdance On The Inside." When I first listened to this, my reaction was, "Wait, I've heard this before." Most people who saw the band live before the infamous break up might remember this as a faster paced, harder hitting song (a live mp3 was leaked on Kazaa, go find it if you can.) This slowed down, almost perverse version is still the standout track on the disc. It's obvious Nolan's musical ability came into play here, as the overall orchestration of the song is on par with old TBS; catchy, poppy, with a bit of an edge and a fantastic ending. However, the lyrics seem to be ripping from Brand New, something that was probably a Nolan influence as well.

Suffice to say, I am extremely disappointed with this album, but somehow not surprised by the total lack of originality, talent, or even decency. The writing took a complete nose dive, the music is strained, but still radio ready, and even the artwork is amateurish. Skip this one, folks.