Bayside - Shudder (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Shudder (2008)


It took me a long time to warm up to Bayside. It wasn't until their 2007 album, The Walking Wounded, that I counted myself amongst their fans. The band's earlier albums, while showing promise, made it clear that Bayside had a long way to go before reaching anything close to their full potential as songwriters. They seemed to arrive there with The Walking Wounded, and while Shudder doesn't do much to demonstrate further growth, it does see the band carry on with a sound that stands out amongst many of their pop-punk peers.

If Shudder is different from The Walking Wounded in any sense, it would be that Bayside has picked up the pace a little bit, which can be seen in songs such as "Have Fun Storming the Castle" and "Rochambo." Meanwhile, longtime Bayside fans will find solace in "The Ghost of St. Valentine" and "No One Understands." In these songs, the hooks are largely the same, but they come more frequently. The rest of the album falls very close in line to The Walking Wounded. Anthony Raneri's vocals are still heavily influenced by some of Chicago's finest (Alkaline Trio, Smoking Popes) and carry a huge dose of melancholy and woe. One shouldn't smite him for wearing his influences so clearly on his sleeve, as Raneri's vocals are still the most appealing aspect of the band. With the band's early releases, he came off as a second-rate Skiba, but time has given him the opportunity (and perhaps tragedy) to develop a more distinct voice.

Bayside has been around long enough that they're starting to influence a new generation of pop-punk bands, and that's a good thing because they have a more mature approach to the genre than many of their contemporaries. They're not without their flaws, still being inconsistent at times and repetitive at others, but these shortcomings shouldn't stand in the way of the enjoyment that Shudder can provide.