Today Already Heard is launching a new feature called “Versus.” The feature will see members of the Already Heard team and guest writers going against one another defending their favorite album from a certain band.
To kick off the series we’re putting the spotlight on Long Island, New York’s Taking Back Sunday. The quintet have had a rollercoaster career with line-up changes, mainstream success, and both acclaimed and disappointing releases.
For this installment of “Versus” Already Heard Senior Editor Sean Reid will be defending the honor of the bands 2002 debut ‘Tell All Your Friends.’ Whilst guest writer Keir O’Donnell of Scottish pop-punk band Wolves at Heart and Struggletown Records explains why the bands third full-length, ‘Louder Now’ is the bands best album.
Tell All Your Friends (by Sean Reid)
There’s something unique when you first hear those opening guitar chords on ‘You Know How I Do’, there is an aura that there’s something special and rare about ‘Tell All Your Friends.’ From start to finish it has a youthful urgency, that for the past decade has left more and more fans hooked to the point now where it’s now considered a “cult classic.”
Sure the releases that followed ‘TAYF’ all have stand out moments and show progress in the bands sound but their debut had a subtle rawness and consistency that was thorough whilst the following albums had slight sleekness that deterred them slightly.
Without a doubt its the bands songwriting that stands out on ‘TAYF’ with memorable lyrics start to end; “So sick, so sick of being tired/And oh so tired of being sick” on ‘You Know How I Do,’ the thriving chorus line on ‘Cute Without The E (Cut From The Team)’ “And will you tell all your friends you’ve got your gun to my head” and "If I’m just bad news, then you’re a liar" (’You’re So Last Summer’.)
It’s a record that delivers plenty of hooks but keeps the necessary rawness intact thus making ‘Tell Your Friends’ the definitive Taking Back Sunday album.
From the duel vocal work between Adam Lazzara and John Nolan to the tales of young lust (‘Great Romances Of The 20th Century’) to bitter love songs (‘The Blue Channel’ and ‘Head Club’) and all the classic sing-a-long moments inbetween, ‘Tell Your Friends’ has the right to be considered a modern classic, it’s impact and influence continues to this day.
Louder Now (by Keir O’Donnell)
Not to downplay the achievements of ‘Tell All Your Friends’ completely, looking back across all of Taking Back Sunday’s releases, ‘TAYF’ stands out as the debut album it is. ‘TAYF’ was a signpost of potential on the way to greater things, but certainly not the be all and end all of the band’s career. Going back to listen to ‘TAYF’ after the band’s later releases is a different experience than when I first heard it. The songs are great, but the back and forth of Lazzara and Nolan attempting to sing the highest notes they can for near enough the whole record wears thin. Yes, it’s heart on the sleeve stuff, but with only a few points of restraint to be found, a lot of it falls on the wrong side of whiny when looking back on it. To me Taking Back Sunday are a band that came out with a strong first release, who then built upon its best attributes, improving in nearly every way with the release of ‘Where You Want To Be’, and then perfected with the release of ‘Louder Now’ in 2006.
Focusing on ‘Louder Now’ specifically, the album is easily the band’s strongest output musically, with huge rock riffs and moments where every single member steals the attention of the listener. With no member overshadowed by any other, the band sound like a cohesive unit, more than they ever have, and rightly so, as ‘Louder Now’ is the only TBS album that’s maintains the same lineup from the album that precedes it.
Production wise, ‘Louder Now’ is a joy to listen to. The guitar tones are the best they’ve ever had on record, the dual vocal harmonies are spot on, and their transitions from full on distortion to jangly clean tones and back add brilliant dynamics to the record. The songs themselves are also arguably some of the catchiest the band have ever written, with singles ‘Make Damn Sure’ and ‘Liar (It Takes One To Know One)’ exposing the band to a more mainstream audience. Say what you will about the merits of arguing record sales in music these days in relation to the quality of the music itself, it is still the case that ‘Louder Now’ elevated Taking Back Sunday further than any of their other albums have. Considering the band’s current position in 2012, headlining Warped Tour, Slam Dunk, and many other huge line-ups, it’s my opinion that reunion or not, Taking Back Sunday would not be where they are today without the success of ‘Louder Now.’
‘Louder Now’ represents a band that had honed their craft, and executed what they wanted to achieve to the highest standard, and as a best friend put it to me, more than any other release of theirs, “this album has balls”.
Want to be a guest writer for a future ‘Versus’ feature? If you’re in a band, run a label or music website then we want to here from you. Send us an e-mail to [email protected].
About Keir O’Donnell
Guest Writer Keir O’Donnell is the guitarist and vocalist for Scottish pop-punk band Wolves at Heart and is involved with independent label Struggletown Records.
About Sean Reid
Sean Reid is the Senior Editor and Founder of AlreadyHeard.com. He has written pieces for a number of websites and magazines including Under The Gun Review, Stencil Magazine and Alter The Press.