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Taking Back Sunday
New Again
WEA/Reprise Records
www.takingbacksunday.com


Almost exactly 3 years and 3 months (ok 2 ½ months) since their last album Louder Now, the boys of Taking Back Sunday have bounced back with New Again. After the departure of Fred Mascherino (guitar/vox) it was completely up in the air as to whether we'd see TBS again. However, to the delight of fans, they announced a mere month later the release of this next album.

New Again takes TBS fans both forward in a new direction and brings back some of the classic parts probably only noted by long time audiences. To get things started out in the right direction, they stuck the title track in the #1 spot. "New Again" has some toxic guitar riffs that mix with the drug inducing drums to make a beginning track that sets an incredibly high bar for the rest of the album. One of the highlights of the album is "Sink Into Me." If I only listened to the first 30 seconds, I really wouldn't like the song; it's too chaotic and insane. But the moment the chorus chimes in, you're instantly hooked into the sexy, catchy and perfect alt-pop sounds. The best part comes near the end when Adam goes stripped down and scruffy with his solo. This is easily going to be the gem of the album and an extremely successful single.

When "Summer, Man" makes it's way through the 3:51 you can't help but get a nostalgic feeling; one that brings up fond memories of the guitar riffs that captured our hearts in "Little Devotional" from the album Where You Want To Be. And when the guitar solo kicks in at 2:15, it's very nearly deja vu. If you've ever heard a break up song, they're full of heartache and pain. Well a break up song between musicians in a band is probably the harshest of the breed. "Capital M-E" is the break up song between Fred and the rest of the band for his departure. "And you slither away like the snake that you are" are lyrics that don't really leave much to the imagination as to the feelings that were left between bandmates. The music itself is actually fairly simplistic, the gentle repeating of chords and a moderate drum presence. But all this is merely for the focus to be left in the obvious place: the lyrics. "Everything Must Go" finishes off the set, and it does so in a rather angry way. The chorus is coarse and feels as though it's being forced down your throat. But alas, there is a sparkle in the distance and its the musical variety throughout the song. The part that pulls me in for more is about 1/3rd of the way through when everything falls away to a guitar solo that eerily takes the song to a whole new level. Without this and the lullaby beginning/end, this number would only be chalked up as another attempt at hardcore rock. But it's that brief pause in the middle that grabs you by the shirt and brings you closer, just to throw the rest of the song in your face.

The album as a whole struggles a bit for conformity. Not that I want every song to sound the same, but an audience will sometimes need a common thread to hold onto. With sewing aside, it's an excellent taste of what this band is able to do post-Mascherino. And what that is, is some musical genius.

-Rachel Fredrickson

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