When Taking Back Sunday‘s classic line-up reformed and subsequently released their self-titled album, the question of roots was raised. Though there were hints of their earlier work, it felt more a combination of their time apart over the years with hat tips to their origins, and Happiness Is appears to be the next step up.
Though Flicker, Fade still has TBS’s catchy sensibility and explosive moments, it’s underpinned with the softer elements of Nolan and Cooper’s Straylight Run. Stood A Chance is a bouncing anthem, where All The Way switches between a punctuated, drum-laden verse to a stripped chorus, a complete flip of their usual song structure.
Beat Up Car has firmly settled in the live set by now, and it’s easy to see why. It has that loud and live brilliance that has felt lacking until this point. The verses hold more of a presence, and the chorus is as huge as the others seem to aim for, but don’t quite hit.
Lyrically, there is real maturity doused throughout their telltale playfulness. Better Homes and Gardens decries “It was all for nothing” once the ring came off, a note on how divorce almost wipes every happy moment before then. We Were Younger Then is a blend of old and classic – in that it’s their own bombastic heights teamed with a more clean-cut, stadium-rock edge.
Happiness Is has its moments of true brilliance. This is a mid-step between their past and a more pop sensibility, and it shows the real growth of the band as people and musicians. With very personal lyricism and stripped back musicality, it feels like a band playing it true to themselves.
Do some songs lack the punch that made their past albums immediately steal hearts? Sure – there’s a whole heap of anthemic journeying for your ears to navigate, but it doesn’t feel like to attack was the intention. It’s enjoyable for being a little different, but having enough of that old ferocity to keep you at home.