Returning with their seventh album, New Jersey’s Taking Back Sunday adopt a very different style from their previous endeavors on Tidal Wave. Right from the jump with the opener “Death Wolf” you can tell this is going to be different. Where normally guitarist John Nolan and frontman Adam Lazzara share the vocal duties this one sees Lazzara go it solo. This is a great opener nonetheless if solely because it represents the change in sound.
Next, up we get “Tidal Wave” which sounds more at home on an Against Me! album more so than one by TBS. There is that grungy blues feel to the track this is also quite stunning in the way it’s arranged. From the riff a drum open there’s a complete sense of straightforward rock never seen in Taking Back Sunday,w hich bassist Shaun Cooper puts in some work unique to this creation. I had to step back and assure that Brian Fallon had nothing to do with putting this song together as it would perfectly fit within the confines of any of The Gaslight Anthem’s brilliant works.
“You Can’t Look Back” feels on the nose and Nolan’s acoustic work hammers home the fact that these guys are a decade and a half under the influence at this point. Lyrically it almost suggests that the guys are talking to themselves. It’s in the last thirty seconds though when we catch a glimpse of the old school harmonies that previously defined the band.
“Fences” drifts in and out and gives us a herculean effort in good songwriting. “All Excess” is a dreamy whim. The sort of track only an older Taking Back Sunday would dare write. working more indie pop into their previously emo-centric package. Lazzara works in an existential game of “if you are, so am I” with “I Felt It Too”. It’s all slow moving guitar and introspection brilliantly wrapped in alcohol soaked regrets from the past. It’s evident the bands grown up and now they have more the deal with than in previous albums.
With “Call Come Running” Eddie Reyes and John Nolan get a chance to shine, and shred over a synth part that’s a break from the monotony. A theme of the album is water and with the title of the album being Tidal Wave that should come as no surprise. With that,”Holy Water” talks of shooting as straight as an arrow but much like the rest of this it offers a cleanse for longtime fans. Giving us a good Louder Now-era sound with this new Americana influence. With “In the Middle of It All” the band’s classic rhythm lineup of Cooper and Mark O’Connell get a work out with a thumper of a bassline falling beautifully in line with the drums until O’Connell fills the scene with a wonderful snare filled beating.
As Adam Lazzara’s voice breaks throughout “We Don’t Go in There” he lets us in and then the guitar picks up and guides us through this story. As the record comes to a close we get “Homecoming” which continues the Americana influence and introspective themes we continue to touch on here. “I’ll Find a Way to Make It What You Want” is such a good closer it isn’t really fair.
Slow, dreamy, and with a piano arrangement to die for there really is a glimpse of “Where You Wanna Be” here if where you wanted to be was all grown up.