‘Louder Now’ not punk band’s best, still ‘Damn’ good

Seth Roy

Taking Back Sunday’s popularity has grown since the release of the band’s debut in 2002 – and for good reason.

The group’s first two albums, Tell All Your Friends and Where You Want To Be, are two of the best of their genre – the inappropriately termed “emo.”

Taking Back Sunday

Louder Now

Released on Warner Bros. Records

Stater rating (out of five): * * * ½

Now the group has made the jump from Chicago-based Victory Records to Warner Bros. Records to release its third album, Louder Now.

Jumping to a major label hasn’t hurt the group one bit.

This is evident from the opening riff to “What It Feels Like To Be A Ghost,” which is one of the more addictive riffs Taking Back Sunday has written.

The album’s first single, “MakeDamnSure,” ranks near “Cute Without the ‘E'” and “Great Romances of the 20th Century” as one of Taking Back Sunday’s best songs. The lyrics are just as good as when John Nolan was in the band, and the song is poppy enough to sing along to.

The instruments are as exuberant and the melodies as catchy as the previous two albums, maybe even more so. But the clever lyrics are still Taking Back Sunday’s forte.

Verses such as, “So don’t act like you’re the first one / I treat it like disease / Sure, it’s rough around the edges / It’s the only thing you see…,” from Louder Now‘s most aggressive song, “Spin,” show that the group is as biting and colorful as ever.

Other stand-out tracks include the uplifting “My Blue Heaven,” the straight-forward rocker “Miami,” which features a sick guitar solo, and the re-vamped “Error Operator,” originally from the Fantastic Four soundtrack.

As good as Louder Now is, it is the only Taking Back Sunday album I didn’t fall in love with during the first listen.

It was touted as a heavier album and as an album that would stand the test of time.

The obligatory ballad, “Divine Intervention,” feels too much like a blatant attempt to recreate the feeling Where You Want To Be‘s “New American Classic” gave listeners.

The album’s closer, “I’ll Let You Live” tries to hard to be Louder Now’s “… Slowdance on the Inside,” the stellar closer to Where You Want To Be, and it doesn’t succeed. By listening to the songs back-to-back, the listener should easily recognize the same structure, even if the band tries to mask it with distorted guitars.

“Divine Intervention” and “I’ll Let You Live” suffer from the band’s sometimes formulaic songwriting.

That said, Louder Now, is still one of the better albums released this year. The album’s three-and-a-half star rating isn’t because it’s bad, but because it could have been so much more.

If you’re a fan, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re new to the group, the album will make you ask for more.

Contact ALL editor Seth Roy at [email protected].