Not Quite Rock But Not Quite Emo Pop
Having reached number three on the Billboard album chart in 2004 with 'Where You Want To Be', Taking Back Sunday had started to look like the founding fathers of the new wave of emo, brandishing songs that were lyrically writhing in pain whilst simultaneously smacking you between the eyes. Fast forward two years and throw in a label switch to Warner Bros. and TBS seem to have lost a little of their bite and a touch of their callousness. Although still packing too much of a punch to fit snugly in the Pete Wentz empire of sugar coated emo but not kick ass enough to rival the likes of My Chemical Romance, TBS's 'Louder Now' tentatively treads a middle ground that could end up flaying about as it tries to find its place amongst the in fashion pop emo.
Sticking out like a beacon, latest single release 'MakeDamnSure' is undeniably the standout track of the album. With a hook that is catchier than any pop song and vocals that spill dissatisfaction and insecurity, 'MakeDamnSure' is the perfect emo rock track, highlighting TBS's lean towards their more softer emo roots. Likewise 'My Blue Heaven' provides a subdued understated side of TBS coming fully equipped with string accompaniment. But TBS then attempt to live up to their album's name sake, with tracks upping the rock ante and creeping further away from the emo path. 'Twenty-Twenty Surgery' whirls around in a rock rage with chant like vocals penetrating the choruses displaying why they are too hardcore for the current emo scene.
Lyrically TBS are still at the top of their game, producing songs that range from the lovelorn to the more hard hitting such as 'Spin' in which TBS tackle the subject of abortion with raw thought provoking lyrics like "It left you clinically dead and made it that much easier to lie/ Said "it's nothing I'm proud of", reinforcing the original appeal TBS could arouse. And yet TBS can then easily move into the rock pop lyrical category with 'MakeDmanSure' and 'Liar (It Takes One To Know One)' delivering the lovelorn despondent quota for the album.
It was inevitable that TBS's sound would change as the band matured. 'Louder Now' may profess to being a more mature sound and may want to be an album that it more rock than emo but in the end TBS have been left in a no man's land, sounding more in tune with the vastly ambiguous alternative rock category than the raw, unconditioned styling they previously supplied. 'Louder Now' sees TBS going in a new direction, bizarrely seeing them conform more to the mainstream than with their previous albums but still displaying some of the old star quality that has made TBS a band that deserves to be noticed.