Welcome to Taking Back Sunday’s 7th proper release in their 17 years as a band, 3rd since the return of the original lineup, and 2nd on indie/punk label Hopeless Records (known for their Hopelessly Devoted to You and Take Action! compilations). Technically this album has the most tracks of any TBS album, totaling 12, where the rest all had 11 (except Tell All Your Friends at 10), but there is very little filler.
After the first single/title track was released, there was a lot of speculation as to what direction this album would turn, as it had a very traditional punk sound, reminiscent of old Ramones records or even more modern Against Me! They then followed up with “You Can’t Look Back” which was also hard to identify with, but at least had a little more of the traditional TBS sound, especially the breakdown during the last minute or so. Upon listening to the album in full, I can safely say it draws a lot of elements from their usual sound, while infusing some new things they’ve never done before. It feels like the most unique album they’ve ever done while also feeling like one of their most cohesive. There is a lot of lead singer Adam Lazarra’s patented screaming with John Nolan’s supplementing background vocals. It draws a lot from all their previous 6 albums. Overall I would say Tidal Wave channels more Louder Now and Where You Want To Be than Tell All Your Friends, even though those albums were without John Nolan and Shaun Cooper.
One track that particularly stands out is “I Felt It To” just because it feels like it will be a typically rock ballad that builds up (with the help of a choir no less) and explodes at the end, and just as you think that it about to happen, it fades out. And “Fences” is slowly becoming my favorite on the album, with a killer chorus mixing acoustic and electric guitars, and some sort of bells arrangement. ” These two tracks combined with “Homecoming” could have been released as a standalone EP as they all flow together very well.
One thing I did notice early on and turned me off a bit was the Autotune/vocal manipulation “In The Middle of It All” and “I’ll Find A Way To Make It What You Want” It’s very subtle and only in the background, but I honestly don’t understand why bands incorporate this into rock songs when they would sound better without it. That might just be my old fashioned thinking, but I’m about the same age as these guys and can do without it.
For me personally, and many other fans, Tell All Your Friends will always be their best album, mainly due to the time and place we all were first listening to it (I was 18 and in my freshman year of college when the album came out, a pivotal time in developing one’s musical taste). I did end up becoming a big fan of Where You Want To Be as well, but fell off a bit with Louder Now and New Again (I don’t think I’ve ever listened to the latter in entirety). When John and Shaun came back it definitely sparked my interest again, and I caught the TAYF tour several times just because I could. “Faith (When I Let You Down)” and “Call Me In The Morning” off of the self title are probably two of my favorite tracks from the band since their debut, but again I had trouble getting invested in this album and the one that followed, Happiness Is. Will Tidal Wave break that pattern and get me back into the early day fandom? At this point its hard to tell, but as a whole I think this is the best album since their reunion. Most set lists from their latest tour showing them playing this album almost in entirety, with a few classic from TAYF and Louder Now.
TBS are one of those bands that fell into the “emo” label in the late 90s and early 2000s and will always have difficulty distancing themselves from that. Honestly I think the only ones that successfully pulled it off are former (or maybe still current?) rivals Brand New. But peers like the Used, Jimmy Eat World, the Get Up Kids, Dashboard Confessional, and Saves the Day, have trouble shacking off that label, and a lot of them have been banking off 10 (and even 15 or 20) year album anniversary tours. And before you say anything, yes I am aware that JEW and TGUK were a class ahead of most of these guys, but including them as examples anyway. However, while I mentioned there are elements of all their records in this album, including those early “emo” days, Taking Back Sunday have gradually been able to establish themselves as more of a rock/indie band than emo/pop punk band, which I think is what they want. Tidal Wave further helps to prove this, and shows they are not afraid to experiment and delve into other genres while maintaining their signature sound. They’re never going to release another Tell All Your Friends, and I think that is for the best. They were in their late teens/early 20s when that record was released, just like many of their fans, and it’s much a product of that time.
- Death Wolf
- Tidal Wave
- You Can’t Look Back
- All Excess
- I Felt It Too
- Call Come Running
- Holy Water
- In The Middle Of It All
- We Don’t Go In There
- I’ll Find A Way To Make It What You Want