Thursday, June 30, 2011

Taking Back Sunday: The band that defined my adolescence

Choosing a band that everyone in the car will like is tricky. In fact, picking the wrong music is downright barbarous. With my group of friends, however, the answer is easy. Taking Back Sunday is a band that we all, inexplicably, love. Now, love isn't an easy word for me to say, just ask any girl I've ever dated. I normally reserve the word for my dog Marley or The Third Man. But Taking Back Sunday is a band I love. When compared to all my other music taste it is a total outlier. It's arguable that screamo deserves a place next to The Strokes, Radiohead and Tom Waits in my top bands, but to be fair, my top five doesn't do Taking Back Sunday justice. They aren't just a band to me, they are a summation of my adolescent and formidable years.

I'm afraid to admit the play count on this album.

Many argue that their lyrics are whiny. Prepackaged angst that has never evolved past its initial selling-point. And in a way these concerns are valid. But that's not to say that the music is reserved for those in arrested development. It is this thematic consistency that allows one to rally around Adam Lazzara swinging his microphone around (mics are for singing and swinging). And listening to the harmonies and breakdowns brings the listener back to high school, when Taking Back Sunday had their golden age. And the music forgoes the pretension that has weighed Brand New down with every new album.

Brand New: good music, crappy album titles

With the release of their new, self-titled album on June 28, Taking Back Sunday returns with the classic Tell All Your Friends lineup. News that my friends found very exciting. As I stated before, my friends and I all love Taking Back Sunday, their first two albums to be exact. It takes a special kind of fan to memorize a bands song. Taking it to the next level, my friends and I have gone to memorize two albums worth of songs and sing them any chance we get. Per tradition, while on our annual spring break road trip, New Jersey is devoted entirely to the band we all worship. And by the time we reach Gloucester County, we have all lost our voice singing along as loud as we can.

We sing majestically.

And when we are all together, and someone is playing the part of ipod DJ (which is, more often than not, myself) there is nothing more gratifying than putting on Cute Without The 'E' and watching thirty people rally around their mutual love of screaming out music we all grew up with. Music that was there for us on bus rides to school, mix tapes for the girl we liked or gatherings we had with our friends. Taking Back Sunday Singalongs aren't just a mutual understanding, it's an institution. And I can't think of any other band or song I've stayed up till 5 a.m. just to sing along with my friends to.

Except for maybe Build Me Up Buttercup, I sing the hell out of that song.

The self-titled album might prove to be a disappointment (as much as I love Interpol, their self-titled left a little to be desired), but the fact remains that Taking Back Sunday takes up an important place in my life. Even with the minor disappointment of 2009's New Again, the fact remains that you can put on Tell All Your Friends and Where You Want To Be on anywhere in (at least) south Jersey and get everyone on board.

I'm unsure whether to declare this a Jersey-phenomenon or not. Do other states love TBS?

Last New Years I spent at an acquaintance's house, mostly not leaving the same corner as my friends. It was fun though, and as midnight approached we crowded the television to watch the ball drop, kissed whoever was next to us and mumbled the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne. We celebrated 2011 the same way our parents, their parents, Lieutenant Dan and Forrest Gump have before us. But once the champagne popped and the pomp wore off, we went back to playing beer pong and rang in the new year in our generation's own characteristic way. We had a Taking Back Sunday singalong. And for the next hour everyone at the party, most of which were people I didn't know, sang along to the songs we all loved. And we will continue to love those songs, because they are so dear to us.

New album out now.

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