Overall Score: 8/10 Sad Lyrics: 10/10 Repeat Listen Value: 8/10 Hooks: 8/10 Pros: Soaring vocals | Catchy as flu Cons: Can become slightly repetitive
Think back ten years. Taking Back Sunday had just released their début album, Tell All Your Friends, and were soon to become the biggest band in the world. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. Still, they were undoubtedly huge, with their 2006 album Louder Now hitting Number 2 on the United States Billboard 200 and lead single MakeDamnSure charting high in the Billboard Hot 100. Since then, Taking Back Sunday have undergone the loss of members and a slightly disappointing fourth album, coming out the other side with a reformed original line-up and a well received self titled album in 2011.
Following this, things from the Taking Back Sunday camp went decidedly quiet again. As it turns out, the past three years have been spent concocting an impressive new album, with Happiness Is being a perfect summation of everything Taking Back Sunday should be and indeed are in 2014.
A melancholic fire burns throughout Happiness Is, right from frantic lead single Flicker, Fade, until the beautifully sobering acoustic closer Nothing At All; Happiness Is is classic, Tell All Your Friends style TBS mashed with their new-found maturity and song writing skill prevalent on Louder Now that will feel right at home with the bands previous releases. Adam Lazzara’s voice still sounds spot on ten years into his career, hitting some impressive notes throughout and shining especially on They Don’t Have Any Friends, where the hook is so massive it’s impressive it hasn’t knocked anyone out yet.
The album is reminiscent of the middle of My Chemical Romance’s career, flitting between the angry punk punch of Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge and the epic scale rock opera of The Black Parade with zest. Along with this, it’s safe to say that Taking Back Sunday have not left their emotional baggage in the past. Lazzara’s lyrics punctuate Happiness Is with his particular brand of sadness. Lyrically, stand outs include Beat Up Car and We Were Younger Then, all gut wrenching punches of anger, turmoil and despair, delivered with just the right amount of emotion.
Happiness Is is makes Taking Back Sunday a relevant band in 2014, and that’s impressive. It’s a rare feat when a band a decade into their career can stay relevant, but with the blossoming emo scene lead by bands such as Modern Baseball, Touche Amore and The Wonder Years, and with just how easy it is to access music these days, it’s not exactly surprising that pioneers such as Taking Back Sunday keep enticing new fans, although delivering an album as good as this one has done them some significant favours.