October 4, 2016 Taking Back Sunday – Tidal Wave (Album Review)
Rooting from Long Island, New York, Taking Back Sunday returned to the spotlight with the announcement of their new album, Tidal Wave, back in late June. Quite the successful band, Taking Back Sunday began to forge their path in 1999, back in the height of Pop Punk and the rise of Emo. Selling tons of records through the years, touring all over, and sustaining a series of lineup changes, the current cast consists of Vocalist/Guitarist Josh Nolan, Rhythm Guitarist Eddie Reyes, Lead Vocalist Adam Lazzara, Bassist Shaun Cooper, and Drummer Mark O’Connell.
Marking their first album since 2014’s Happiness Is, Tidal Wave is their seventh overall studio effort, officially released on September 16th via Hopeless Records. An album the band talked about as something that may surprise some fans, it peaked at # 36 on the Billboard 200 within less than a month of it being out to the public. Met by a favorable response, Tidal Wave has many fans and critics talking.
Starting off strong, the album opens with slow-building “Death Wolf.” With a sound unmistakably Taking Back Sunday, the song progressively picks up pace-wise, leading into a vague and cryptic narrative of events that is juxtaposed with the upbeat body of the song. Following up, title track and single “Tidal Wave” sounds a bit more Classic Rock while having a clean pacing and simple rhythm. The lyrical aspect is condemning and a constant question- “What’s gonna happen when the old man goes, what’s gonna happen when the old man goes, guns are drawn outside your doors, what’s gonna happen when the old man goes…” That said, it almost seems like the tidal wave could be the passage of time and weight of decisions, at least from one perspective.
Changing gears a bit, “You Can’t Look Back” possess a vibe of old school Taking Back Sunday as far as vocals and instrumentation goes, catchy even for a casual listener to get swept up into. Then, “Fences” also features the nostalgic sound of the band’s typical style. The song itself heavily emphasizes decisions and coming of age, which is quickly becoming a theme for Tidal Wave as a whole. Without much pause in between, there is an aesthetic appeal to “All Excess,” which is much more Alternative sounding. It is also more relaxed in pace and much more soothing than the predecessors. Having very repetitive lyrics, the track is much more musically focused as well, thus evoking a few different feelings from listeners.
Moving on, “I Felt It Too” bleeds in slowly and it is quite emotionally laden. Lyrically powerful, the verses hint at a deep meaning with the words, “I felt sick to my stomach, Lord don’t let them die, we were lost in that moment, swallowed us whole, whole…I know you’re tired, I feel it too, I know you’re tired, I feel it too, I couldn’t help it, neither could you…” Impactful and soulful, this piece was a good choice for midway through Tidal Wave, breaking up the fast tempo and Alternative/Pop Punk edge.
Bringing back the original vibe of the album, “Call Come Running” is upbeat and vibrant. Then, taking it a notch down, “Holy Water” heralds in, drum heavy and patient, building to a crescendo of chorus. Much like a roller coaster, “In the Middle of It All” comes in sheepishly and then blares to life, catchy and hard to sit still through. Raising intrigue, mysteriously titled “We Don’t Go in There” fades in, and it becomes clear that the song is focused on deception – claiming age old “The Devil’s in the details…lying through your teeth.” With an interesting sound and moody lyrics, it is a stand out moment on the album.
Acoustic guitar heavy and vocally strong, “Homecoming” also stands out on the album with its fresh sound and grounding declaration of “If I live, if I don’t get killed, I’m going back to Jacksonville” in the form of a serenade of sorts. Lastly, “I’ll Find a Way to Make It What You Want” seems focused on romantic failure and being kicked out of your house. Coming across as a plea to a significant other to think things through, and as a promise of better things, it is sung in a whisper to a ghost of gentle, emotional instrumentation, before bursting into color around two minutes in; simply making it an intense ending to choppy waters that is Tidal Wave.
Overall, Tidal Wave seems to be a narrative focused on storytelling, as is typical of Taking Back Sunday. With revamped enthusiasm and a blossoming new sound, it is an eclectic album with interesting twists and turns on the ride that is a bit harder sounding. That being said, CrypticRock gives Tidal Wave 4 out of 5 stars.