Words by Emily Hollitt
Taking Back Sunday are a staple of early 2000’s alternative rock, emanating the perfect blend of pop and rock as it became more popularised. Their EP ‘Tell Your Friends’ was one of the most formidable and recognisable records to shape the Third Wave emo movement as the genre and sub-culture seeped deeper into the forefront of society. First forming in 1999 by guitarist Eddie Reyes and bassist Jesse Lacey, the group have lasted over 2 decades together. Today, the powerhouse group released their eighth studio album ‘152’, their first release since 2016!
“‘152’ offers a lot more hope and light than we first realized when we were in the thick of it, putting it all together. We’ve been fortunate enough, through our music, to grow up with a lot of people going through the same things at the same time, and probably feeling the same way. Our hope is that you’re able to find a little bit of yourself in this new collection of songs, because you’re not alone, and neither are we” says the band on the record.
‘152’ was produced by LA-based Australian producer Tushar Apte (BTS, Demi Lovato, Zayn Malik), mixed by Neal Avron (Twenty One Pilots, Bleachers), blending the best of pop and rock to further their signature sound.
“You would think after 20 years, we knew what each other is going to do, but there were so many times making this record where I heard the initial idea and thought I knew where it would go, but then I was super surprised. It’s those kinds of surprises that make it so exciting. That’s why we all still want it so badly” commented lead vocalist Adam Lazarra.
Heavily reverberated acoustic guitar introduces opening track Amphetamine Smiles. Lazarra’s emotion shines through with his delivery; he sounds almost triumphant as he delivers the track’s motivational message. The overall tone of the song is bright and hopeful. “You better save yourself before you try somebody else” he repeats each chorus. “Love you like a brother, love you like no other, Imma love you ’cos no other can”.
A dreamy, echo-y, 80’s reminiscent electric guitar opens S’old. “You’re gonna get sold. You’re gonna get so old, either way” repeats Lazarra each chorus. The drums are punchy and driving, giving the track a classic pop-punk feel, accompanied by the counter-melodic, energetic bassline.
“I took my time, I held my tongue. Knew all along, that you were the one” opens Lazarra in The One. The drums are tom-heavy throughout the verses, building suspense leading up to the chorus. His voice is raspy and passionate, fitting for the uplifting love song.
Group vocals and pad strings open Keep Going before punchy, snare-heavy drums are introduced. “The problem isn’t that I’ve changed, the problem is that you stayed the same”. The punchiness dies down in the bridge as Lazarra repeats the lyrics over the pad strings, before the track’s fades out into an epic, full-of-life ending. The drums and bass sit at the forefront as the song fades out.
I Am The Only One That Knows You grows more sombre. Opening with Lazarra’s voice and chorus-y electric guitar and church organ, before a gentle, electronic beat sits under his voice with the chorus. “There’s a feeling, there’s a promise, there’s an innocence gone. And it’s not coming back, so you keep moving on” he sings in each chorus, growing more and more heartfelt with his delivery each time. “You’re staring blank in the mirror, you’ve got nothing to prove. Cos you can’t see yourself the way they see you. Just because you’re winning doesn’t mean you’ve got nothing… to lose”. The final note is sustained before leading into the final chorus, leaving a lasting emotional impact. Punchy snare and hefty bass lead in Quit Trying. “I will always find my way, I will always find my way. Way back, this place, way back, my name”. The song is passionate, punchy and empowering. The production perfectly melds the catchiness of well-crafted pop with alternative rock, creating a truly memorable, masterfully made track.
Pad strings and sparkly synths introduce Lightbringer. “You were happy once. Or was I making it all up?” sings Lazarra, reminiscing on an old lover. “Were you making it… all up?” he sings later, revisiting the songs core idea. The song is a driven, passionate search for answers after the end of an emotional connection; a relatable, heartfelt addition to the record. “Do you need else somebody else? I can’t be…somebody else” opens Lazarra in New Music Friday. The band played with percussion in this song, never playing in a way you would expect, but in a way that services the song exactly as it needs. The song is anthemic, suiting the hopeful tone of the record.
Juice 2 Me details getting rid of a toxic, negative influence in your life. “You’re a voice I needed out of my head. Talking all the time, leaving so much left unsaid. I’m glad you’re gone” repeats Lazarra each chorus. The music grows slow and sombre as he repeats “I love you but I’d rather live without you”, before the track ends. The Stranger closes the album; emotional and heartfelt, the closing track is a record highlight. Beginning with soft, ballad-type instrumentation, the track quickly grows dark and deep, before returning to the album’s signature punchy sound. “Don’t you get lonely? Like I know you get lonely”. The song is like 3 tracks in one, changing tone to match the energy of the lyrics. “Well don’t you treat me like a stranger” repeats Lazarra.
Taking Back Sunday set out to make a positive, uplifting album. And that’s exactly what they achieved with ‘152’. Every single track pulls something relatable to people from all walks of life; it’s an overall human record. Tackling the themes of aging, love, growth and all things in between. They use modern pop song techniques with elements of rock and pop-punk to create a sound that is not only accessible to any listener yet remaining uniquely their own.
‘152’is available to stream now on all platforms
With thanks to Dallas Does PR