You’d be forgiven for thinking that by naming their latest effort New Again, Taking Back Sunday were ready for a fresh start. After all, with the departure of key songwriter, co-vocalist and guitarist Fred Mascherino in 2007, surely this would be the perfect opportunity to try something different as they welcome new addition Matt Fazzi?
Well surprisingly it’s more of the same from the New York quintet. Lead single ‘New Again’ fits in perfect with the band’s back catalogue; offering up a tasty slice of upbeat pop rock. Similarly ‘Lonely Lonely’ and ‘Swing’ have a similar pacing to 2006’s Louder Now. However, as the old adage about copies goes, you can’t help but feel that as each album passes by, the quality gets a little less. That’s not to say fans of the band won’t enjoy New Again, just with the passing of time and little innovation on the band’s tried and tested sound, there’s a real danger of Taking Back Sunday becoming just a face in the crowd they were once at the forefront of. Whilst Fazzi is an adequate replacement for Mascherino on guitar, gone is the call and response pattern that worked so well between the two vocalists; with Fazzi serving as more as a backing vocalist rather than sparring partner for frontman Adam Lazzara. Consequently, even New Again’s best moments, such as ‘Sink Into Me’, closer ‘Everything Must Go’ and ‘Summer, Man’ don’t quite reach the same heights as past glories, with the latter coming the closest.
Whilst New Again isn’t the rebirth you’d expect, it is also by no means a disaster. Perfectly released on the verge of summer, with repeated plays it is an album that will no doubt grow over the coming months, even if it is the least distinctive of their four studio albums to date. A missed opportunity, and if this band wants to continue enjoying the same level of success of their past, album number five will have to offer up something new, urm… again.