Over a decade ago, a little known band from Amityville, NY released one of the greatest albums of the new millennium. Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends exploded on to the scene in 2002 and was certified gold 3 years later. It brought us timeless songs like "You're So Last Summer" and "Cute Without the 'E' (Cut From the Team)". It resonated with the youth of America at the time, because that's what Taking Back Sunday was: the youth of America. Adam Lazzara's lyrics felt like he ripped them straight from your own brain and put them in one of the bands songs. Whoever connected with TBS' music did so because we all found a part of ourselves within it. One thing that they have always been great at doing is writing catchy and meaningful lyrics that have always been open to interpretation. You could hear a song and connect it to a time in your life where it fits. It would soothe people, and the band knew that they created something special. Five albums and three lineup changes later, the band is still just as relevant as ever. The original five that created Tell All Your Friends are back and, after a disappointing self-titled return, they have just released the fantastic Happiness Is to rave reviews. The album came out in March and, in my personal opinion, is the best thing they have done since 2006's Louder Now.
Taking Back Sunday continues to stay a driving force, selling out shows whenever they make an appearance. The thing that I notice the most when I go to one of their shows (I have seen them three times) is the age range of the crowd. I bump into people there that are anywhere from the age of 16 to 30, and that got me thinking, Wow, this band is still as popular today as it was a decade ago. That's a feat that any band should be proud of, especially one in the scene Taking Back Sunday has a firm hold over, but what is it about them that makes people want more? Why do we follow them wherever they lead us? Well, the answer is simple: they're still one of us. Adam Lazzara and John Nolan's lyrics are just as real as they were 12 years ago when that first album came out. They are all fantastic musicians that have only gotten better with time, and their fan base connects with that. That's the thing with Taking Back Sunday: their fans have always held a special connection to them. Even when things don't turn out so great, they've stuck by them and they are, more times then not, rewarded for it.
The staying power of their music is what really impresses me the most. About a year or two ago I was painting with a few friends and we were looking for something to blast while we got our work done. A few albums were talked about as one of my friends looked through my old iPod video (oh yeah, I still rock one of those from time to time) when TAYF came up. Nobody even had to answer before it was on. We all got lost in the music, lost in the lyrics, and lost in the inevitable conversation about their infamous feud with Brand New. I went to see them twice that year.
TBS evolves with the times and they've done it in the right way. The lyrics on Happiness Is are more mature, but still carry that TBS feel. They're catchy. They're real. Anybody can connect to them in a way that heightens the experience. Songs like the first single 'Flicker, Fade', or the revealing 'Better Homes and Gardens' prove that Taking Back Sunday are entering the second phase of their career. The phase where they shake off that 'emo' label that has been associated with them for the last 12 years, and become a staple of the rock community.
This band stays relevant by just being themselves. By being real and different and not afraid to take a chance every once in a while. An attitude I hope up and coming bands learn from and adopt.
Happiness Is is out now on Hopeless Records.