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Taking Back Sunday does not disappoint

Observer Scene | Thursday, September 9, 2004

When a band achieves critical and commercial success on its debut album, it often has to deal with the additional pressure to live up to the expectations of fans and unremitting critics.With the bar raised on its sophomore release, “Where You Want to Be,” Taking Back Sunday has effectively cleared the hurdle that sends so many bands crashing into obscurity. This album not only attests to the band’s talent, but also to its resilience. In 2003, John Nolan (guitar and back vocals) and Shaun Cooper (bass) decided to quit Taking Back Sunday, forming the band Straylight Run in 2003. The loss of Nolan and Cooper was devastating, and it was unclear whether or not Taking Back Sunday would be able to continue. However, fortune quickly stepped in and the band persevered with the acquisition of Fred Mascherino (guitar/vocals) and Matt Rubano (bass).In wake of this proverbial game of musical chairs, many fans wondered how the lineup change would affect the band’s music. The emotional intensity of the first album, “Tell All Your Friends,” provided its listeners with a cathartic release through its mercurial rhythms and brutally candid lyrics. Picking up where it left off, “Where You Want to Be” retains Taking Back Sunday’s trademark mordant melodrama, while pushing forward and refining its music as a new group. Produced by Lou Giordano, “Where You Want to Be” is the confluence of its five members’ creativities and emotions. In an interview, bassist Mark Rubano said, “It would be next to impossible to play anyone half of the album and still get a sense of the entire thing.” The 11 high-energy tracks showcase a variety of tempos and moods, as well as the boys’ penchant for wailing repetition. While “This Photograph is Proof” appeared on the “Spiderman 2” soundtrack earlier this summer, the band chose “A Decade Under the Influence” as its first single to underscore the band’s triumph over obstacles. Heavy-hitting songs like “The Union” and “Bonus Most Pt. II” are juxtaposed with Taking Back Sunday’s softer side on tracks like the acoustic “New American Classic.” Lazzara and Mascherino complement each other well, driving up the intensity of the album, while also practicing a skillful level of restraint at points. “… Slowdance on the Inside” rounds out the album beautifully with its driving momentum and affection of disillusionment that just begs the hearer to hit repeat.Having already sold nearly 500,000 copies, “Where You Want to Be” is a successful follow-up album for Taking Back Sunday. It is not as emotionally aggressive as “Tell All Your Friends,” but fans will not be disappointed. “Where You Want To Be” is cohesive and more refined, and it points towards a promising future for the lads of Taking Back Sunday. Their CD is available on Victory Records, and the band can also be seen on tour this fall with Fall Out Boy and Matchbook Romance.