Bayside - The Walking Wounded (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The Walking Wounded (2007)


Honestly, little has changed of Bayside's stylistic tendencies since their debut on Victory with 2004's Sirens and Condolences. Granted, comparisons to the Smoking Popes and Alkaline Trio are a little more conspicuous now than they were at that time, and sure, the band's self-titled followup traded in J. Robbins' rough edges for the pop sheen from the team of Shep Goodman and Kenny Gioia. Still, at the band's core all along have been solid, mildly punk-influenced emotional rock songs fronted by Anthony Raneri's uniquely lazy affectation.

However, one couldn't help but feel that unlike its predecessor, 2005's Bayside suffered from bouts of inconsistency. It seemed the band would load one song up with hooks and consequently find their tacklebox rather barren for the next. Aside from very sporadic moments, The Walking Wounded cures that with a good majority of its tracks landing in fair territory, if not beyond the right-field wall.

A title track that starts the album features an incredibly momentary waltz that sounds like Gatsbys American Dream gone Klezmer and a splendid cameo from Vinny Caruana (currently of I Am the Avalanche). Even as brief as that waltz is, that spot of ambition rarely appears again throughout Wounded's duration. Fortunately, Bayside is capable enough in their own skin that the progression resulting merely in better songs and not necessarily more ambitious songs is acceptable.

"Duality" is the album's first single, and it wouldn't make sense to designate any other song here as such, as none have such a compelling, bright and bubbly chorus. It's certainly radio-friendly but somehow avoids seeming contrived.

Other standouts abound, though. "I and I" works well even with a detuned guitar chorus. The album's longest track, "Choice Hops and Bottled Self Esteem" might also be its best; harkening back to the band's lyrical Trio influence, it's a little schizophrenic, just a bit self-loathing and held down with a strong chorus comparing "the healing power of alcohol" to its effect on "girls in seedy bars who drown themselves in it." Excellent, lightly chugged riffs make up for an awful (but again, abrupt) Panic! at the Disco-esque instrumentally programmed moment on "Dear Your Holiness." "(POP)ular Science" makes not-so-subtle references to the music industry and watering down of the arts, Raneri loudly and repeatedly proclaiming the fragment "they don't care about" (what I would assume is implying "music").

Drummer John "Beatz" Holihan died in a tragic crash in 2005 and many were likely to believe Bayside would depressingly dwell on that with this album. It seems like they got it all out of their system with 2006's Acoustic EP/DVD though, since nothing on here makes obvious reference to the crash aside from the album's title.

Some of Bayside's strongest compositions might be found on other albums, but they have most definitely recaptured the ability of putting together a number of solid, well-written songs, showing the preceding full-length was a mere misstep and not neccessarily the beginning of a staircase-long stumble.

The Walking Wounded