With everything, progression is felt over time. In this respect Taking Back Sunday’s latest effort (their 7th album in 14 years) has seen them comfortably rise from the emo ashes of the late noughties. And while, of course, there are elements of their previous sound, TBS have engineered their new album in a way that no longer screams emo. ‘Tidal Wave’ attempts to demonstrate their growing maturity, while interestingly still acknowledging their roots.
Opening track ‘Death Wolf’ begins with an almost eerie calling, “Nobody…Nobody will…Nobody will know”, before jerking in to life with a roaring guitar riff. If TBS are maturing they’re doing it standing up, and with no Zimmer frames in sight! This is followed by title track ‘Tidal Wave’; a sound that paints an image of some college band, having taken up their battered instruments and commandeering an old pirate ship. They’ve hoisted up the anchor and taken themselves in to the eye of the storm, with nothing but their sea song. While the sound of their songs remains youthful, it feels that the lyrics of Lazzara are the true reflection of their ageing. Tidal Wave’s, “nothing’s going to save you from the tidal wave”, suggests a notion that you can’t look back, you must move forward. This is literally stated in their next song ‘You Can’t Look Back’, a pleasing effort that might fall short musically, but still carries heartfelt lyrics from Lazzara.
Unfortunately ‘Fences’ also seems musically weak, however the strong vocals juxtaposed with these fragile lyrics give a sense of Lazzara’s personal fears of life, but with a hint of hope through re-assurance. As well, ‘All Excess’ and ‘Call Come Running’ feel like vintage TBS, and in general the end of the album starts to show cracks. Too many songs seem to rely heavily on old habits from previous TBS albums. That vintage feeling is even back again for ‘In The Middle of It All’, and it doesn’t seem to relent. ‘Tidal Wave’ might have had high hopes to distance the band from the glory years, however at this point it falls short. In a positive manner though the band’s message from the album seems to be one in search of answers, but what’s clear (and in no way negatively), even after 14 years of searching TBS are a band still falling short of those answers.
All in all this is an album that you must take from it what you will. The album generally starts off in a positive direction, however personally it doesn’t have legs by the end. Perhaps those Zimmer frames might be handy after all.