Taking Back Sunday’s debut album is still heralded as their finest and while none of the songs are horrible, it doesn’t do much for me. Most of the songs are something you don’t mind listening to if it was playing on the radio, but it rarely grabs your attention. When the band branches out and plays around with their music, the songs are really good and something that’ll stay with you when the record is over. Otherwise, a lot of the music feels the some with lots of distortion, screaming, and lyrics about how shitty relationships are.
The opening track “You Know How I Do” isn’t a bad song. It has catchy music that gets you bouncing around the room and after awhile it starts to grow on you. Otherwise, nothing about the song stands out. The bridge feels a little disjointed because of the clash of singing going on and also a piano is randomly thrown in making it sound like a different song entirely. This disjointed feeling came again during “Bike Scene.” During the bridge a cool drumbeat abruptly starts with female vocals taking over. It’s very unexpected and doesn’t fit in well with the song. With these two tracks the first thing I noticed was how the music reminds me a lot of Blink-182, especially the bass line on the opening number. I can’t remember if they’re inspired by the band, but it’s something I noticed all throughout the album.
One of the best tracks here is the popular “Cute Without the E (Cut from the Team).” The rapid pace of the music and the energy behind it makes it hard to not love this song. Also, the back and forth between singers Adam Lazzera and John Nolan is great. They both have different voices, yet they complement each other really well. “There’s No I in Team” and “You’re So Last Summer” are more catchy tracks that aren’t bad, but the one that ended up as my favorite was “Timberwolves at New Jersey.” The the fun and light opening riff really grabs your attention and instantly gets your head bobbing. It actually makes the song stand out because it doesn’t sound like anything else on the album. Not only is it catchy, but there are a lot of funny and clever lyrics, such as “Those words at best were worse than teenage poetry.” If more tracks on the record varied their sound like this one does, it would’ve been easier to get into.
The one song that is disappointing is the closer “Head Club.” It starts off really strong with cool booming music that fades in and out. The first verse has a great energy to it that pulls you in, but then it slow downs during the chorus. This is where the song falls apart. Everything slows down and by the end it gets repetitive with Lazzera and Nolan singing the same line over and over again. Not to mention this is yet another song about a bad relationship. By this point it’s easy to grow tired of songs about how awful girls can be. Another weak song is “Ghost Man on Third.” For some reason every emo band has to have a song about suicide and Taking Back Sunday is no different. The sad music and the bleak lyrics of someone standing out in road paint a bleak view on the matter, but as the song goes on it sounds whinier and whinier. It’s as if they were trying to be sensitive about the issue, but really missed the mark. As mentioned before, the other songs here like “Blue Channel” and “Great Romances of the 20th Century” aren’t terrible, but there isn’t much about them to make them memorable.
Overall, the album gets 7/10. I like Taking Back Sunday, but this album is not a hit for me. While there are a few good songs on here that I actually remember, most of them either sound alike or are just whiny making them dull after awhile. Plus, the subject of bad ex-girlfriends gets tiring after the fifth track. If the band would’ve changed up the music along with choosing to write about something else then the album would’ve been more interesting. But for now I don’t understand the love this record receives.