The sixth studio album from punk rock giants Taking Back Sunday comes in the brilliant package that is Happiness Is. It has now been over a decade since the band’s debut album, and it is amazing to hear that they can still write material so strong, if not stronger. Things have changed drastically since the release of 2002’s Tell All Your Friends however the original charm is still intact and it is undeniable that after all these years they can still bring the level of pure energy to the songs. This album is also the third to feature the original line-up since the reunion of Shaun Cooper and John Nolan on the band’s 2010 self-titled album.
Before the release of Happiness Is, the band recorded an official live video of new track Flicker, Fade, stating they’d rather release it than have a few hundred copies floating around Youtube and so that people would focus on listening to the track instead of recording it on their phones. From this point onwards the suspense built among fans for the new, as of yet untitled, album and for more new material. The band had also showcased another new song Beat Up Car live but decided not to record this officially. A little later down the line and they finally announced a release date and track listing for the new album, and a variety of pre-order packages. Flash-forward to current day and the album release is mere days away and the album is now streaming online. Finally!
Beginning with Preface, the band’s first attempt at an ‘intro’ track, it then hurtles straight into the studio recording of Flicker, Fade. This track itself is a perfect microcosm of what the rest of the album has in store for fans, and the strength of the chorus makes it easy to see why the band couldn’t wait to present this track to crowds. The next track was the second single to be released, Stood A Chance, which just may be one of their best songs to date. This fast, upbeat track is unbelievably catchy and transports you back to the teenage charm the band held from their first album. Again, a very strong chorus also makes this track a must for upcoming setlists and is likely to get an amazingly energetic response whether played to crowds of fans or of festival goers who’ve never heard of the band before.
As well as being brilliant for making hard-hitting, fast punk, the band is also great for producing very emotional and powerfully slow tracks. It Takes More is a perfect example of where this appears on the new album and as this track progresses to the point of beautiful overlaying of Adam Lazzara’s vocals it reminisces strongly of older tracks like My Blue Heaven. The penultimate track We Were Younger Then is similar in the sense of offering a less ‘full-on’ punk track, with a chorus with a strong hook, but with verses that take a step into the gentler side of the band’s work. The final minute of this track also progresses into a very strong ending; giving a wall of sound with a thick bass line provided by Shaun Cooper cutting through the middle.
Something always associated with a Taking Back Sunday album is its closer. Tracks like Everything Must Go or I’ll Let You Live are incredibly powerful and leave fans with track so hauntingly beautiful and commanding that they can’t do anything other than play another one of the band’s albums. It was much relief that the closing track of Happiness Is, Nothing At All, had the same effect. The first section of the track moves along gently with acoustic guitar and vocals accompanied softly with some backing keys, before being textured with vocal harmonies, strings and a muffled snare roll in the background. Building to a great climax which drops down to just acoustic guitar again, this track may not be as chorus driven as something like Call Me In The Morning, but through its bareness comes a degree of intimacy the band has never really showcased before.
Instrumentally speaking, this album is as strong as any of other as well. Mark O’Connell provides a wide array of typical punk and rock beats with his own twist and proves how drumming does not have to be over-the-top to be awe-inspiring. The pounding rhythms in tracks like They Don’t Have Any Friends include small intricacies the stand out on every listen and his ability to provide incredible fills is as on-point as any other of their releases. The guitar ability of Eddie Reyes and John Nolan blends together amazingly as well to create a very smooth mix and the vocal ability of Adam Lazzara is just perfection. There is an undeniable maturity in his voice on this record, when compared to the first three releases, and this has made for a much thicker and stronger sound.
So far, the band have announced a North American tour alongside The Used with support from Tonight Alive and Sleepwave; a tour that will hopefully make its way across to the UK. Nevertheless, whatever line-up they bring along, there are whole continents waiting patiently for the band to grace their shores, and with the brilliant strength of this release it seems likely that people are going to want to hear as much new material as possible mixed along with the older classics.
Happiness Is releases April 18
Check out the official video for Stood A Chance below.
Words > Stephen Morris