Bayside - Bayside (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Bayside (2005)


While it's hard to stomach the off-key vocals and shoddy musicianship of the early work of Long Island, NY's Bayside, the band's previous full-length, last year's Victory debut Sirens And Condolences actually proved to be a rather competent profile of 90's Chicago pop-punk, if not a shameless tribute to the Smoking Popes. For the self-titled effort here, the band has shed a bit of their plagiaristic skin, yet any Alkaline Trio or Popes comparisons they receive would still be about 75% accurate; fortunately, it's in the band's melodies and songwriting that there lies just enough strength to which it overshadows the similarities. Unfortunately, for all the baby steps forward the band manages to make towards originality, it also results several steps back as far as consistency goes, as Bayside suffers from a few unfortunate areas of filler.

The best tracks Bayside has to offer can be found in the more paced tunes like the almost double-time of opener "Hello Shitty" and its immediate follower "Devotion And Desire," with a surprisingly clever employ of the "set myself on fire" cliché. The remaining parts of the record flow just fine but don't do nearly enough to entrance the listener. Anthony Raneri's lazy singing style is an interesting piece when it's backed into a wall and forced into aggressiveness on tracks like these and the more interesting "Montauk," but usually ends up falling into the trap of songs that are merely "nice:" Not terrible by any means, but gray, mid-tempo pop-rock that may cause you to sing along to a single line and remain idle the rest (see: the middling "We'll Be O.K.," the white noise acoustic number "Don't Call Me Peanut"). "Half A Life" saves the record from a complete collapse at the finish line with the band's subdued nature finally making somewhat of an impact at the chorus; lyrically, there's likely to be a bitter taste on your tongue by song's end.

Put simply, Bayside is disappointing. Over the course of several records they'd been evolving rather well, and ironically stumble at a point they'd choose to dignify with self-titling. Maybe the effort was rushed a bit (as the record comes less than two years after S&C, and only several months since the departure of a key songwriting member), and perhaps that's why there are so few legitimately good tracks on the album. While the "bad" tracks aren't neccessarily all that bad, Bayside is a very stubborn effort that fails to move one way or the other despite its notable quality of a more unique gleam than its better predecessor.

Devotion And Desire