ALTERNATIVE ROCK: For two decades, Taking Back Sunday has been a leading force in the emo landscape. When their debut album, Tell Your Friends, hit the scene, many other bands blossomed after its release, inspired by its vision and anxious to capture the spark of a band that had practically changed the punk rock scene overnight. 

By the time Taking Back Sunday released Tidal Wave in 2016, the scene was growing and changing at an alarming speed, with new bands contending to take the torch. As the scene was evolving and with many ups and downs in their career, Taking Back Sunday would continue to be at the forefront as one of the top bands in the scene, with the transparency, passion, and connection to their fans to back it up. With as much experience and outstanding recordings under their belt as these Long Island stalwarts have, Taking Back Sunday’s new album, 152, keeps them as one of the leaders of the post-hardcore/emo/alternative genre. It’s plain to hear that their musical talent is still very much alive with their latest album.

From the beginning, “Amphetamine Smiles” feels as instrumentally compelling and lyrically sensitive as their previous offerings. While Tidal Wave showed a band that was coming back into its own skin, this first song unequivocally confirms that Taking Back Sunday is self-assured and never looking back. 

If that is not enough to convince listeners that the band is back and better than ever, lyrically powerful, atmospheric, and energetic highlights, such as “S’old” and “The One,” demonstrate a level of nostalgic vocal vibrance and instrumental diversity perfected. Adam Lazzara’s vocals have aged gracefully alongside unpretentious guitar and ambient soundscapes, creating unique and cohesive melodies that progress throughout the album.

152 continues to move through this painful theme of acceptance in all its forms, and songs like “Quit Trying” and “New Music Friday” emphasize this all too frankly. As a moment on the album that cements maturity and acceptance in oneself, junctures like this express a different kind of vulnerability that sheds the layers of a band in their golden years and is accepting a new chapter in their lives. 

The album ends with one of the best songs on the album, “The Stranger.” Emotionally impactful, “The Stranger” is drenched in fervent chaos wrapped in vast melodies and tight lyricism. 152 is a journey about reconnection and self-awareness, and this last track sums up a lot of that in a beautifully raw and expansive way. 

152 embodies a band that has not only matured in their few years of absence, but has found a way to look beyond its roots to become who they are today, resulting in a band that is grateful for their successes and hopeful for the future. While that journey has not always been a pleasant one, Taking Back Sunday has taken those experiences and created a deeply evocative record and an earworm of tunes that have cemented the band’s place back on top once again. ~ Sammie Star