When I started my own zine as a sophomore in highschool (I am now a freshman in college), Victory would send me all their releases to review. Honestly, I stopped reviewing Victory releases because I was tired of making fun of every record I had to review. Although 96% of Victory releases are awful, sometimes, between Freya, Snowdogs, Atreyu, Catch 22 and Madcap CDs, there were a few records that I actually liked, TBS's debut, Tell All Your Friends, being one of them.
Tell All Your Friends was never a record I took 100% seriously (and I sort of feel sorry for people who do), but it was a fun take on a shitty situation singer Adam Lazzara went through, when he thought it would be a good idea to have sex with his best friend's (singer of Brand New) girlfriend. The lyrics were clever, and the addition of having two singers, more or less constantly singing, was a fresh idea for the ever-so-stale genre of pop-punk. Fast-forward a year or two, and I hear that guitarist/songwriter John Nolan, along with bassist Shaun Cooper, left Taking Back Sunday to start the also awesome Straylight Run. This would have been alright in my mind if Nolan didn't write so much material of theirs. To say the least, I had no good expectations for the second Taking Back Sunday record. Fast-forward again to the middle of the this past summer, when the video for "Decade Under the Influence" is getting airplay all over the radio and MTV and, surprise surprise, it sounds just as good as the old record. I ate my past comments on the demise of this band, and eagerly anticipated the release of the record.
I actually bought Where You Want to Be on its release date, which is something that I am usually too lazy or busy to do. My girlfriend and I trudged over to the local record store and, no surprise, there were at least thirty kids also buying the record. Upon listening to the record for the first time, and reading the review/interview in Alternative Press, I must say I was a little disappointed in the subject matter of the record. I really enjoyed the lyrics to Tell All Your Friends because it told a story that could apply to anyone. Basically it was one big question of morale and honesty, where as Where You Want to Be just seemed to lack the same veracious personality. Not to mention some of the lyrics cite some really odd references such as, "spend the night lit, listening to Miles Davis, Blue? Kind of..." and "I like you man, you're crazy." Yes, that is a reference to 2002's Old School in case you were wondering.
Although I doubt I will end up liking "Where You Want to Be" more than TBS's debut, I would still say that the songwriting has gotten a lot better. "Set Your Phasers to Stun" is a good repetitive and pounding first track, reminiscent of "You Know How I Do," while the anthemic "This Photograph is Proof" is the "Cute Without The E" of the new record.
If you liked the first record, you will no doubt be able to appreciate Where You Want to Be. There are subtle differences, and although the band has lost two important members, the songwriting and backup singing couldn't be stronger. Hopefully Taking Back Sunday become one of the leading pop rock bands around, because in my eyes, no band in this genre can even touch what this band is capable of producing.