Punk-rock icons Bayside are a perfect example of a band that refuses to bow out. Since forming in 2000, the band have sold over a quarter of a million records with their five different releases, making Cult their sixth. The eleven-track album features previously-dropped single ‘Time Has Come’, and delivers that New York City edge that the band have been rocking since they started.
‘Big Cheese’ is what starts off this record, and begins with everything that is expected from a Bayside record. While this release doesn’t quite have the same kick as 2007’s The Walking Wounded, it’s enough to have Cult pass as a decent record, despite being slightly disappointing to anyone expecting more. Anthony Raneri’s vocals are still as strong as they have ever been, but it’s still not enough to make this record anything more than fairly good.
One of the most powerful songs on the record is ‘Time Has Come’, and considering it has already been released as a single, there are no surprises there. With a driving, cohesive force and an epic guitar solo to boot, ‘Time Has Come’ is inevitably leading this record out of the dark and helping to turn it into something more. If only all eleven tracks were as compelling, it might’ve been a much better album.
The record continues in the same direction of being just smooth enough, with tracks like ‘Transitive Property’ and ‘Stuttering’ – the latter being somewhat of a diamond in the rough. The lyrics are wonderfully insightful and that alone sets the track apart from your generic love song, but still manages to tick every box in the hypothetical Writing a Love Song 101 manual. Complete with an incredible breakdown, ‘Stuttering’ deserves a place in the angry-heartbreak hall of fame for sure.
Unfortunately, the last four songs let the record down. While every band aims (or should do) to end their albums on a bang, this album falls short as it fizzles out over the final tracks and loses the energy it began with. Last track ‘The Whitest Lie’ has a sense of ‘trying too hard’ as it attempts to live up to Bayside’s legendary reputation but sadly fails, leaving the listener almost perplexed as it fades out – “Is that it?”
Bayside’s older releases Bayside and The Walking Wounded are always going to be outstanding records, but Cult unfortunately doesn’t live up to that reputation. While it’s a reasonable record that will probably stay in your CD collection just because of who made it, it’s unfortunately pretty second-rate compared to its predecessors. It’s fault? Bayside don’t seem to have adjusted to the times like many bands do in order to keep their material fresh, meaning they’re releasing something that might’ve gone down well in 2000, but in 2014, is sounding rather stale.
Cult is available now on iTunes.