Taking Back Sunday – 152 [Album Review]

Review: Benjamin Coe

Taking Back Sunday are on a high right now, having recently celebrated not only their 20th anniversary as a band but also the 20th anniversary of their debut album Tell All Your Friends, which, back in 2002, quickly became a staple and dare I say icon of the modern emo era. And these days they are firing just as hard and fast as they did all those years ago, albeit with a bit more life experience under their belts.

Enter 152, the band’s first album in 7 years and their first to be recorded as a four-piece band after the departure of founding guitarist Eddie Reyes in 2018. While this may seem like a major setback, the four remaining members have continued to evolve and branch out musically, not just with the choice of Tushar Apte (Nicki Minaj, Demi Lovato) to helm production duties but also in recent collaborations with superstar DJ Steve Aoki and rapper Cappadonna of the incomparable Wu-Tang Clan.

A light acoustic riff opens the album before vocalist Adam Lazarra chimes in with his signature pipes, singing about an all-night, drug-fueled conversation. This type of blunt honesty in the lyricism helps makes this such an accessible album as I’m sure there is at least one thing among these 10 tracks of pure gold that everyone can relate to. Songs like S’old deal with the foibles of growing older and trying to maintain relevance in a crazily fast-paced world while others like Keep Going are based around strained relationships when life takes you in different directions to those around you.

The production here is as crisp as you’d expect from a primarily pop-oriented producer twiddling the knobs behind the mixing console and strangely enough, it suits Taking Back Sunday quite well. Shaun Cooper’s bass tones are immaculate, the harmonies between Lazarra and guitarist/vocalist John Nolan have never sounded better, and the guitars combine so seamlessly with the background ambience it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

My only gripe with this album is its length. From the opening of Amphetamine Smiles the band have you hooked and eating out of the palms of their hands until the closing notes of The Stranger (which features some classic TBS riffage) and you will be left begging for more. But this really only serves the album’s repeatability with songs like Quit Trying and New Music Friday begging for another listen right away.

Taking Back Sunday continue on their path to glory with this eighth installment in an already massive catalogue of albums and achievements and if you haven’t been along for the ride, this is indeed a good time to jump aboard.

Taking Back Sunday – 152 is out October 27 

Pre-order 152 here.