Taking Back Sunday is back! Well, they haven’t actually gone anywhere, but it is obvious that the state of the alternative rock scene exploded with the knowledge that they had booted bassist Matt Rubano and guitarist Matt Fazzi from the band and decided to welcome back guitarist/vocalist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper to reform the original line-up from their breakout album, and obvious fan favorite, 2002’s Tell All Your Friends.
With a massive amount of excitement and hype gravitating around the release of this new product of the band (or should we say new, old product?), no one really knew what to expect from this nostalgic line-up. Would there be a return to the widely loved Tell All Your Friends sound, or would there be a completely new vibe attached to the Taking Back Sunday name? Either way, thousands of eager fans were left salivating for a taste of any new music from the band since the demo “Best Places to be a Mom” dripped its way into the hands of the masses last year. Well, on March 28th, TBS exposed a little smidgen of what they have been diligently slaving over for the past few months in the form of the bizarrely delightful “El Paso.”
Any fan of the band, or even casual listeners will be able to tell that this isn’t the same Taking Back Sunday that had the mic and the mosh pit back in 2002. “El Paso” is the product of nine years of musical evolution from each member of the band. Opening with slick riffs by guitarists Eddie Reyes and Nolan, the song kicks off with Adam Lazzara’s signature vocals backed by Mark O’Connell’s thunderous kit and the subtle use of eerie, screeching guitars flaring up sporadically. Clearly Taking Back Sunday are doing whatever they want with this record as “El Paso” is quite possibly the least accessible track they have ever released. That’s not to say that is particularly a bad thing, just an odd choice for the first song to be released.
One complaint most fans had with the first demo released was the lack of Nolan’s vocal contribution that has been greatly missed, but as the chorus of “El Paso” commences, Nolan’s gut-wrenching screams blast out relentlessly as he yells “You never give what you get, no!” while Lazzara mindlessly adds some blood-curdling “Yeah”‘s in the background. The track creeps along into the second verse, and reveals again Lazzara’s unique vocal style but this time with Nolan butting in with his own few choice words and later mirroring every lyric Lazzara presents.
After the huge second chorus recedes, Cooper’s bass line leads us into the ominous section that is the bridge of “El Paso.” As Lazzara tritely states “You got your way, you got away” the tension and volume slowly build until the guitars crash over the vocals and the final chorus ceases the track, not without the random sound of a toilet flushing as the final notes fade.
So after much consideration, I deem the first released song off of Taking Back Sunday a glorious success, even if many fans will originally be turned off. I feel as the intrigue builds by how different “El Paso” sounds and as warmer weather looms closer, these elements can only build the excitement for a new release from the veteran group that we all know and love, Taking Back Sunday.
Listen to “El Paso” below: