August 29, 2016 Bayside – Vacancy (Album Review)
Originally from Queens, New York, Punk Rock/Emo band Bayside has been going strong for sixteen years now. Taking its moniker from their hometown as a last minute effort to put a name to a CD they wanted to hand over to New Found Glory, the band has gone on to quite a career with five of their first six albums attaining peaking positions in US charts. Consisting of Vocalist/Rhythm Guitarist Anthony Raneri, Lead Guitarist/Backing Vocalist Jack O’Shea, Bassist Nick Ghanbarian, and Drummer Chris Guglielmo, Bayside has come a long way from their humble beginnings and hard times. Now returning with their first album in two years, they released their seventh overall studio album, entitled Vacancy, on August 19th. Their second album via Hopeless Records, the initial announcement of Vacancy was met with intense enthusiasm from their devoted fanbase, more so once tour dates in the United States, Australia, and Canada had been announced.
Having an interesting background story, Raneri claims much of the inspiration for Vacancy came from his dealing with the trials and tribulations of his own life, his return to New York from Tennessee, and the music scene. Showcasing his own thoughts and beliefs, the album acts as a narration from the personal perspective of Raneri, while still being relatable to the listeners. Known for their musical composition and strong vocal style, the internal musings of Raneri is a welcome addition to the process.
Fittingly, the album opens up with “Two Letters,” a song which immediately establishes the tone of the album and further demonstrates the focus placed in Raneri’s own struggles, including a failed marriage. With the undeniably Bayside sound and progression, it is a strong opening for what is to come. Next, “I’ve Been Dead All Day” hosts a Country vibe tempered by the band’s usual Punk sound, making for a unique sound. The song is complete lyrical narration of a downward spiral internalized by the narrator to an almost upbeat track. This is before harder track “Enemy Lines,” with more edge musically with biting lyrics and finality behind it. With a more standard appeal to typical modern Punk, fourth and fifth cuts “Not Fair” and “Pretty Vacant” host the inner musings of Raneri that range from observation to lamentation with some pretty good technical work behind the music.
Moving along, “Rumspringa (Return to Heartbreak Road)” has a faster and more intense pacing with the chorus “return to heartbreak road!” emphasizing the epitome of the song. In contrast, “Mary” is subtly leaning toward a Country sound again, perhaps in point of reference to Raneri’s ex-wife. With that in mind, it is a heart-wrenching song of a love that did not make it with music that is heavy, yet sad. Lifting the mood back up, “Maybe Tennessee” comes across as an appeal to Bayside’s original sound, while “The Ghost” and “It Doesn’t Make It True” seem more Pop Punk mashed with Bayside’s technical skill. This leads to closer “It’s Not as Depressing as it Sounds,” which maintains the ideal that life and the album in whole is not as depressing as it seems and follows suit to the theme with a hopeful instrumentation with a realistically bitter edge. It is the perfect end and embodiment to the overall message of Vacancy behind its anguish and vitriol.
“It’s always been my goal to write songs that are technically complicated but aren’t off-putting to someone who just wants to sing along,” Raneri has said in regards to this album, and the statement rings true with any musician who listens to Vacancy. The music is technical and fresh while the casual listener can also enjoy the ride and bob along to each song. Though the theme of the album and sound is a bit different than previous works of Bayside, the overall effect is a stable one that holds its own. Heavy on lyrical composition (as per their usual) and the unique weaving of vocals, the album is a well-balanced work. With a tour already begun worldwide, any Bayside or Alternative fan is able to enjoy Vacancy, as it is an album sure to please fans old and new. That being said, CrypticRock gives Vacancy 4 out of 5 stars.