Release Date: Mar 18, 2014
Record label: Hopeless
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
When Taking Back Sunday's original lineup reunited in 2011 for their self-titled fifth album, it felt as though the band had tapped into the youthful energy that had brought them together nearly a decade earlier, returning with a reinvigorated album that felt more like a reintroduction than a return to form. On Happiness Is, the band's sixth album, and second consecutive outing from the re-formed lineup, Taking Back Sunday bring more of their growth and experience into their work. While some of the energy of their previous outing can still be felt on the album, the band seems better able to harness it, giving the album a tighter, more controlled feel.
Review Summary: Pop-punk minus the punkWhen John Nolan and Shaun Cooper rejoined Taking Back Sunday in 2010 after spending several years together in Straylight Run, most of us thought this would be a return to the rough around the edges vocal yowling and hook heavy turn of the century emo-pop of 2001's Tell All Your Friends. Well, we were wrong. Instead, the duo brought Straylight Run's softer brand of melodic pop into Taking Back Sunday's continued evolution towards more mainstream alternative rock.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret- Somewhere around the time of 2009's New Again, after most of their original fanbase (and original members) had moved on to other things, Taking Back Sunday became a FANTASTIC pop-rock band. Even when the group's "classic" Tell All Your Friends lineup reunited for their 2011 self-titled album, the group stayed the chorus they had begun on their previous record and made a mature, challenging and tuneful rock album, containing some of their most aggressive material ever ("El Paso), as well as their most melodic ("Call Me in the Morning. ") In contrast, Happiness Is, the group's second full-length release since their reformation can be seen as a bit of return to form, which will inevitably be great news for a large section of their fanbase, but will come as a disappointment for fans that appreciated the more adventurous two prior records.
There’s no doubt about it: Taking Back Sunday were the young darlings of mid-Noughties emo rock. With their long fringes and skinny jeans, they whipped up a frenzy on every date of the Warped tour circa 2004 and made heartbreak cool again. The challenge then, ten years since their debut first landed, lies in still resonating with the audience that once answered their every beck and call.
It’s been over a decade since Taking Back Sunday released their debut, Tell All Friends, but you wouldn’t guess that from listening to their sixth album, Happiness Is. The second release from TBS’ reunited original lineup sees them getting their groove back via everything from upbeat anthems such as “Stood a Chance” to catchy compositions like “Flicker, Fade” and acoustic closer “Nothing at All.” However, maybe most satisfying is the way enigmatic frontman Adam Lazzara gets personal on the love song “Like You Do,” proving that you can be emotional without relying on emo clichés—even if you helped popularize them. JONAH BAYER .
Happiness Is is kind of a big deal for Taking Back Sunday: It’s their first record on an independent label in a decade; it’s the first time they’ve worked with Mike Sapone (best known as Brand New’s longtime engineer/producer), who produced five of Happiness Is’ 11 tracks; and most importantly, it’s the third TBS album to feature the band’s “classic” lineup of frontman Adam Lazzara, guitarist/vocalist John Nolan, guitarist Eddie Reyes, bassist Shaun Cooper and drummer Mark O’Connell. With Happiness Is, this lineup has now released more music as a unit than any other version of TBS, which is a pretty monumental accomplishment since many of us assumed the reunion with Nolan and Cooper would never happen. What’s really interesting, though, is how with all of those changes and new experiences, Happiness Is feels more like Taking Back Sunday ca.