January 7, 2019 Taking Back Sunday – Twenty (Album Review)
Just about everyone knows at least one Taking Back Sunday song. These Long Island, New York natives have been soundtracking their listeners’ formative years for twenty years now, and to celebrate, the band are releasing Twenty on Friday, January 11th through Craft Recordings.
Twenty is something like a greatest hits album, but instead of feeling like an obvious money grab, this thoughtful collection features a little slice of each of Taking Back Sunday’s seven LPs. Are there radio hits on this record? Of course, but if it has been awhile since you have given TBS a spin, classics like “MakeDamnSure” and “You’re So Last Summer” are all you need to remind you why you loved this band so much in the first place.
Taking Back Sunday have had something of a tumultuous history. With a host of lineup changes, rivalries, and a quick rise to stardom, these Long Islanders are one of a few bands who survived the surge of “Emo” music in the early 2000s and came out the other side with microphones still swinging.
Having built a strong legacy, Taking Back Sunday’s current core lineup consists of Vocalist Adam Lazzara, Guitarist John Nolan, Drummer Mark O’Connell, and Bassist Shaun Cooper, all of whom have been there since the band began. Listeners can now hear that entire history on Twenty, and see the band perform some of their seminal albums in full on the upcoming Twenty celebration tour. It may seem strange to see such a storied history and beloved catalog parsed down into only twenty one tracks, but the runtime feels just right.
Presented in chronological order from their first release to their most recent, Twenty begins with three tracks from beloved debut Tell All Your Fans. “You’re So Last Summer,” “Timberwolves at New Jersey,” and “Cute without the E (Cut from the Team)” show TBS in their most raw form. As they move through another classic, 2006’s Where You Want to Be, the band’s quick evolution can refinement can be heard in “A Decade Under the Influence.”
Fan-favorite “MakeDamnSure” and “What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost” find the band really hitting their stride by tightening up their songwriting and crafting what is arguably the best record of their earlier era. Then, we see the band begin to mature with the return of Nolan for some stellar guitar-driven, catchy tracks like “Flicker Fade” and “Tidal Wave.”
The cherry – make that cherries – on top of Twenty are two brand new tracks entitled “All Ready to Go” and “A Song for Dan.” Tacked neatly onto the end of this chronological collection, these new tracks give some hints as to the direction the band is headed for their next record. Returning to some fuzzed out, raw Punk guitars and pounding drum fills in “All Ready to Go,” the band are leaning hard into the emotional lyrics and exposed nerves that have been drawing fans in for these past twenty years. Despite their not being any clues as to when the band’s next album will drop – TBS have already announced that the Twenty celebration tour will take up the entire first half of 2019 – these little breadcrumbs are enough to tide fans over for now.
As is the case with most greatest hits collections, there is not a ton that is new or exciting in Twenty aside from the two new tracks. The collection is thoughtful in its chronological arrangement, which allows listeners to hear how Taking Back Sunday has evolved musically and lyrically since 2002’s Tell All Your Friends, but most fans will already have all of these songs in one form or another. For those listeners who have somehow never listened to this band, or for lapsed fans who may have missed out on some of their excellent, more recent work, then Twenty is definitely worth picking up! For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Twenty 4 out of 5 stars.