Context – Trying some things out
I used to love Taking Back Sunday. I still do, in my heart of hearts, despite not really listening to them anymore. It’s funny how that works sometimes.
Back in the early days, I fucked with Tell All Your Friends hard. I probably still know 7/10 of those songs. In fact, I’ma listen to it while I’m writing the rest of this post so that my nostalgia might color this review in a more friendly light.
I’m not gonna lie, this album does not sit well with me. But more on that later.
When TBS first hit the scene they were rife with controversy having been in a feud with other Long Island Emo Darling Up-And-Comers Brand New. Taking Back Sunday’s Jon Nolan had slept with his then (and now again) best friend’s girlfriend, which inspired Brand New’s “Seventy Times Seven”, which in turn inspired “There’s No ‘I’ in Team”. The drama transcended mere lyrics and made its way into the merch tables. Lines were drawn in the sand. It was a good time to be alive.
At the time I was a die-hard Taking Back Sunday fan, and while I enjoyed a few Brand New songs, I didn’t really listen to them beyond these hits. Meanwhile, I devoured the next two Taking Back Sunday albums despite several lineup changes and subtle changes in style. And eventually I just sort of stopped listening to them. No blood, no foul, just didn’t make it to my stereo as often. And in a delicious turn of events, dare say I irony (I shouldn’t, I’m not Alanis), Brand New becomes probably my favorite band of all time and space. Probably.
Having become Riot Fest staples in their own right, I’ve seen Taking Back Sunday more times than I can count, and eventually I noticed that I only recognized about half their set. And the other half wasn’t anything I was excited about. So I stopped showing up for a moment. With their sharing the headlining spot on Riot Fest’s Saturday lineup, I figured it would be a good time to re-investigate what this band has to offer.
And it pains me to say I barely recognize this band. Adam’s voice is only sometimes recognizable, Jon’s is indistinguishable. The drums have a punkier aggression to them that wasn’t really present on the TBS I know and love, but the rest of the band doesn’t really keep up or highlight this potential new direction.
I could just be salty that there isn’t as much bounce and play, the qualities that initially drew me in. Or maybe I don’t listen to music carefully enough and missed it in the details. Or maybe I just prefer some melodrama fueled by teenage angst and drama blown out of proportion. Or maybe they just evolved in a direction I don’t appreciate. Any way I slice it I couldn’t get excited about this.