May 29, 2009 - Warner Bros.
Taking Back Sunday are a strange beast. Since the 2006 release of Louder Now, guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Fred Mascherino left the band, and vocalist Adam Lazzaraâ€™s engagement to Eisleyâ€™s Chauntelle DuPree was abruptly called off, among other turbulent life events. Of course, in typical TBS fashion, these issues wonâ€™t be addressed in the press. But just like the best parts of the Bible are when God gets all vengeful on peopleâ€™s asses, Taking Back Sunday albums shine most when frontman Adam Lazzara doesnâ€™t hold back lyrically, and because of his willingness to open up--no matter how crypticly--on many of these songs, New Again leaps forward as the best album of Taking Back Sundayâ€™s career to date.
Lazzaraâ€™s tongue lashings start with â€œSummer, Man,â€ which was likely written about Mascherino. The songâ€™s thick, chunky riff drives the midtempo rocker through myriad indictments backed by Beach Boys-esque vocal â€œoohâ€s (sample lyrics: â€œSo go prove to the world what you already proved/That you just couldnâ€™t do it on your own/Letâ€™s have a talk about the good times/About how you were â€˜always giving inâ€™â€).
Album closer â€œEverything Must Goâ€ is most definitely directed toward Lazzaraâ€™s ex-fiancee DuPree, with its verses telling the story of moving in together and a chorus of, â€œYouâ€™d quote the good book/When itâ€™s convenient/But you donâ€™t have the sense/To tie your tangled tongueâ€ wailed by Lazzara over one of TBSâ€™ patented half-time breakdowns and some truly epic guitar spiraling. (Side note: Does any band do half-time breakdowns better than Taking Back Sunday? Is it even possible?)
Even though Lazzaraâ€™s obviously taking some shots at his various ex-partners, heâ€™s not afraid to turn the barrel of the gun on himself, either: â€œWhere My Mouth Is,â€ an airy ballad thatâ€™s sure to become a single, is about his rumored drug use (â€œI put my money where my mouth was/Until I couldnâ€™t breathe through my noseâ€)-and is possibly an apology toJohn Nolan and Shaun Cooper, who acrimoniously departed TBS in 2003 over circumstances still left largely undiscussed (â€œAnd now Iâ€™m staring at the floor/Where my second life just ended/Where I lost not one, but two friendsâ€). The songâ€™s chorus, â€œSee, I had it all/But I threw it away/Just to prove that I could,â€ is sung sweetly, belying Lazzaraâ€™s admission that he essentially let the original incarnation of TBS self-destruct.
Much of New Againâ€™s music has a darker, more menacing vibe, and as such, sacrifices some of Louder Nowâ€™s highest pop peaks (â€œLiar (It Takes One To Know One),â€ â€œMy Blue Heavenâ€) for an intensity the band have never had before. â€œCatholic Kneesâ€ features a bridge straight out of a Glassjaw song; â€œLonely, Lonelyâ€ sounds like something leftover from Brand Newâ€™s The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me; the bouncy â€œSink Into Meâ€ never loses its magic even after dozens of listens; and the brilliant â€œCarpathiaâ€ is so well-written, itâ€™s amazing to think four-fifths of this lineup wrote something as mundane as â€œMiamiâ€ just a few years back.
The only pockmark on this otherwise stellar album is â€œCapital M-E,â€ which shouldâ€™ve been relegated to B-side status. Of course, thatâ€™s the one song that spells out Lazzaraâ€™s M.O. in plain English: â€œThe nicest man I ever met/Was more malicious than malcontent/He taught me how to hold my tongue/And wait to strike until their backs were turned.â€ So to all future victims of the singerâ€™s vitriol: Youâ€™ve been warned.