April 12, 2010 is a day that will live on in emo-infamy. The Taking Back Sunday line-up that recorded Tell All Your Friends re-united for the recording of the band’s fifth and self-titled album, featuring John Nolan‘s (Straylight Run) return behind the guitar strings and microphone, and Shaun Cooper’s (Straylight Run, Destry) return behind the bass guitar. The two members had left in 2003 to start Straylight Run, citing irreconcilable differences. Tell All Your Friends was arguably the band’s best album based on popular opinion amongst the band’s most rabid fans (although, this reviewer is partial to the band’s second album Where You Want to Be), with a gradual drop-off as each album progressed down the band’s resulting discography.
Journalist’s have written long and hard about this band and the tumultuous relationship it has had with its members and the relationship it has with the band, Brand New. It has been an ugly relationship between the two bands. It is rumored that Adam Lazzara, the lead vocalist of Taking Back Sunday, and Jesse Lacey, the lead vocalist and guitarist of Brand New and a former bassist for Taking Back Sunday, have been trading lyrical blows over their resulting albums, as the two had a falling out over a woman. Perhaps this can be most recently apparent in Taking Back Sunday‘s “This Is All Now,” a song that makes references to religion, a torn relationship with lies and hidden agendas, and even the guitar riff sounds eerily similar to what can be heard on The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me and Daisy, Brand New‘s last two albums that heavily feature religious affectations.
Taking Back Sunday, like all of their albums, is full of emotional lyrics about love earned, love unrequited, and love lost. The lyrics are easily tighter than their last two albums, Louder Now and New Again, albums panned by their fans, showing John Nolan‘s influence as an older soul with the words of a life-long poet. And the sound of the album is far more aggressive than Where You Want to Be, with songs like “El Paso,” “Faith (When I Let You Down),” and “Best Places to Be a Mom (easily the worst song title in the history of time).” However, what isn’t really abundant in this album is the dueling vocals that the band has been known for since its creation. “El Paso,” the lead and most aggressive track, displays the dueling vocals the most in a foray reminiscent of Middle Class Rut.
This album, not only features the return of Shaun Cooper and John Nolan, but it is a return to the quality that Taking Back Sunday fans have come to expect after such a solid debut album in Tell All Your Friends. It isn’t an equal to their debut, and it doesn’t rival Where You Want to Be, the album that brought us Fred Mascherino (The Color Fred, Terrible Things, Breaking Pangea, Brody) at the guitar and microphone. But it is head and shoulders superior to the band’s third and fourth albums. “Never, no never, do [we] have to settle for those bastards…,” (“Sad Savior”) because Taking Back Sunday is back and better than they have been in a long time.