ALBUM REVIEW – “Happiness Is” by Taking Back Sunday

It may not be the best track on the new Taking Back Sunday album, but ‘We Were Younger Then’ does possess (quite possibly unintentionally) its most vital lyric – “I remember when comfort was not an option, but we were younger then.” It may be taking this phrase out of context to suggest that it represents their decision to finally settle down into a more timeless, mature sound after years of first embracing and then chasing the past glories of their youth, but this is a meaning that could well fit. Happiness Is does see TBS sounding more comfortable in their skin than they have done for some time, and it benefits their music immensely.

To say that they’ve “grown up” with this album is rather condescending to a group of men in their 30s, but again it’s a description that fits. This is a collection that completely eschews pop punk and post-hardcore and instead sees Taking Back Sunday simply making rock music, and damn good it is too. Never before have they recorded anything as achingly restrained and well-honed as album centrepiece ‘It Takes More’, or low-key ballad ‘All the Way’. The grandiose ‘Flicker, Fade’ and surging ‘They Don’t Have Any Friends’ retain the energy of their classic work but channel it into new shapes.

Happiness Is is far and away the most assured-sounding Taking Back Sunday album since Louder Now, though lacks a standout track like that record’s ‘MakeDamnSure’. While recent releases have seen them attempt in vain to maintain their mojo, their latest work shows that they’ve finally stopped trying to be the band of ten years prior and are showing their age in the best possible way. The quality may dip slightly from ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ onwards, but the first two-thirds of the record in particular is the sound of a band rejuvenated.

Bassist Shaun Cooper deserves particular praise for perfectly judged melodic patterns that shine brightest on ‘All the Way and stand perfectly complimented by Mark O’Connell’s drum work. Vocalist Adam Lazzara suits maturity far more than he did chasing youth. Together the band are cohesive and build some impressive multi-layered tunes here, on what is definitely the best Taking Back Sunday record in 8 years at least. For this band, Happiness Is abandoning any long since over-worn punk trappings and focusing on songwriting excellence. Wipe the failure of their self-titled album from your mind and enjoy the results.

7/10

[Michael Bird]

‘Flicker, Fade’

‘All the Way’

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [Photo Gallery] The Used, Taking Back Sunday, Tonight Alive, Sleepwave – 4/22/2014 – Silver Spring, MD | RichardThinks.Org - April 28, 2014

    […] If you haven’t already, go check out Michael’s review’s of “Imaginary Enemy” & “Happiness Is”! […]

  2. Taking Back Sunday Announce US Tour with letlive. and The Menzingers | RichardThinks.Org - November 10, 2014

    […] with support from Letlive and The Menzingers. Check out the tour dates below after the jump.“Happiness Is…” Album Review “Rented World” Album […]

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