1 November 2016

Taking Back Sunday - Tidal Wave

I have a confession of sorts with this release and with Taking Back Sunday as a band, I always thought they were a one hit band and they were done by the end of 'Louder Now' at the end of 2006, which is an incredibly ignorant think for me to say.  That was their third album and before they have released 'Tidal Wave' in September 2016, they had released six studio albums, three live albums, a demo and have been touring the world.  Just because I was unaware of what they were up to then it does not mean the band is over, so that is a bad mark in my own book on that one.  So, what is the background behind 'Tidal Wave'?  Well, this is their first album since 'Happiness Is' from 2014, this is the third album from the reunited line-up who originally released 'Tell All Your Friends' in 2002 that came back in 2011 with their self-titled album. The main reason for me finding out that they were still going was that I was looking for songs for a radio show, going through so mediocre songs and out came 'Tidal Wave' itself.  It did stand out and I made the vow to review it as well, so let us see how the album has turned out.

01 - Death Wolf

From a slowly fading in feedback that starts to get louder with a little piece of vocal and then a classic sounding punk riff that starts off a song that immediately grabs your attention and it is a louder than life introduction to this album.  They run with it and you do not really have much choice but to enjoy the ride, thankfully this is a good thing as it is a fantastic song.  It has a classic hook in the chorus that becomes a brain worm, at least it did for me for a month and a bit (and if I am being totally honest, it still is).  It has such an explosive beginning to the album, certainly a great reintroduction for me and it is already making me eat my ignorance about the band and I am sure it will be doing the same as other people as well.

02 - Tidal Wave

The song that got the band back in my attention, the reason for this review and it is a solid, hard punk number with a passing hint to The Ramones and The Skints with a pounding drum beat that is the all-consuming centre piece of this song.  It is a short, sharp, stomp of a song that is actually very different to quite a lot of alternative rock out there at the moment; but it is a throwback to an older style of music that has not been played properly for years.  So, it is a great song, but still a throwback to an early punk style.

03 - You Can't Look Back

This is the Taking Back Sunday that I remember, all emotion, all passion, almost warfare in places and not holding back anything.  It is the song that reminds me of 'Make Damn Sure' on the album, with its fast, punk paced opening section that is followed by the melodic and heartfelt ending to the song.  It is split into two distinct sections and both showcase what the band are about, all emotional and passionate, as well as wanting to make the room move with a riff that could start a pit in an empty room.

04 - Fences

With a string opening, this song takes it down a notch in terms of intensity which was required to be honest.  If an album is overloaded too much at the beginning, it can be the downfall of an album and a band.  This is not to say the 'Fences' is a poor song, it is still a decent number which is talking about mending broken relationships and that there is always a way back home.  But it is not the strongest song on the album and it does feel like a filler, a good filler, but still not a patch on the first three.

05 - All Excess

To be honest, this is a song that I have a love and hate relationship with and it can flip on a minute to minute basis.  The opening riff is loud, the lyrics are fantastic with a love song wrapped in a punk suit, it is building very well and then it hits the chorus.  The chorus does not quite meet the high standard of the verse and the opening, it is a little weak in comparison and the momentum of the song halts for me at that point.  A bit of a shame to be honest, but it is what it is.

06 - I Felt It Too

You would think at this point; due to that way I have talked about the last two songs that I would be dropping hatred on the slow and emotive 'I Felt It Too'.  Well, that is not the case as it is a great number that does not drop the ball.  It is a slow build, a gentle plucking of the guitar and gentle vocals that taking to the soul.  It takes its time to get to its point, it is given that time as well and it is worth the effort as it starts to get noisy towards the end and not in a way which you will expect.  A nice surprise for me on this album, one that is almost the song of the album.

07 - Call Come Running

After the emotional, slow pace of 'I Felt It Too', the band pick up the pace of 'Call Come Running' which has speed, passion and love that are driving the song through the listener.  It is a decent number that once again gives the album a bit of energy and it has a slight rock 'n' roll feeling to chorus and it has a brilliant bridge/chorus that makes this song stand out a bit.  Is it my favourite on this record?  No, but it is one that I really, really, really, really like – top track.

08 - Holy Water

Starting with a guitar effect that I can only describe as sonic, 'Holy Water' is a slower beast that might have thrown a spanner in this album.  Coming so soon after 'I Felt It Too', the usual thing might be to add another filler or faster song to the mix.  However, TBS are not going to follow what might be called the obvious route, no they decided to go down a different path and this slow burner is a great song.  When it is finished, you realise the journey that the band have took you with it, it is not what you expect when the song first starts.  It is the surprise of the album and I mean that in the best way possible, it is a great track that works its way into your brain in different way to 'Death Wolf' and that is a great thing for a band to accomplish.

09 - In the Middle of It All

When I first heard this song, I was not too sure about it and I could not put my finger on it.  First few spins and I was not feeling it at all, it was just another filler and I almost wrote it off as such.  But it is the grower of the album, it takes times to reveal itself as the song does not go for the loud explosive dynamic that the band can sometimes deploy; it is trying for something else and it has more subtle tools, with a riff that does not smash it out of the park, it does something more memorable and it sticks around a lot longer once you have got it.  Take your time on this one, it is a hidden diamond on this album.

10 - We Don't Go in There

A song about hiding from some darker places in the work and not feeling that there is much below the surface, it starts off with an acoustic guitar and then it kicks off slowly as it heads towards a fantastic riff that will have everyone singing along in the crowd of their shows and people trying to figure it out on their guitars.  This showcases one of the best strengths of this band as they head towards the end of this album - they work at their peak when they have a long build in a song, when they give a song space to grow.  This track showcases that aspect of the band at its best and it sounds brilliant.

11 - Homecoming

A song about returning home, it is another slower number on the album and one that is obviously filled with emotion for the band and they are heading towards the familiar.  For me, it is not a song that I am feeling as it is a little bit too the point and musically it is not as engaging as other songs.  But it is not a bad song either, just one that is not for me and I will move swiftly on.  One final point, the slow solo is really good.

12 - I'll Find a Way to Make It What You Want

With a backwards riff, this song ends the album with an emotional peak that is hard to ignore.  It goes for the slow build once more and thankfully it delivers; the band are going for a larger than life sound on this one as they throw every last piece of energy into the album.  It is emotional from the very beginning as the words about wanting to fix a broken relationship are very powerful and it is not an easy song on the ears.  Another one that takes a few listens to sink in, it is slow, thoughtful and at times it has a powerful message for the listener.  I can see why it was picked as the ending track for the album, when the guitars fade in towards the middle of the song and the band start to pick up the pace slightly, you can see the passion behind the number and the band bring the curtain down with a dramatic flair.

Now I like a lot of these songs on this album, it is a solid release that takes a few spins to make sense in places.  The opening is incredibly strong and it does make the middle of the album drop a little which hinders the rest of the album.  But it is still a very solid album that showcases both the strengths and weakness of Taking Back Sunday, they have their brilliant moments and then they also have some that are just average.  I will also be honest once again - this was almost a seven, but that first half of the album is so good that it bumps it up to an eight; well played Taking Back Sunday, well played.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track - Death Wolf

You can purchase Tidal Wave on Amazon here.

You can visit the Taking Back Sunday website here.

You can follow the activities of Taking Back Sunday on Facebook here.

You can stream Tidal Wave on Spotify here.

You can stream Tidal Wave on Deezer here.

You can stream Tidal Wave on Tidal here.

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