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Album Review: Taking Back Sunday - Happiness Is (2014 LP)

Taking Back Sunday have kind of meandered in and out of the spotlight in recent years, losing relevance pretty quickly after the emo boom of 2006 faded. They're back this year with a new release, Happiness Is, and some old members - John Nolan their original guitarist and bassist Shaun Cooper, who have actually been back since the last self-titled album - and a sound that's refreshingly, deliciously similar.

I love Taking Back Sunday. I always have, ever since Tell All Your Friends. I love them, I really do. It's why I was so happy when Nolan came back for their most recent albums – the gang is back together, Adam Lazara and Nolan are back being bros and making rad music, I'm happy.

So what do I think of their new album? I mean it's been years, I've grown, they've grown, it's been eight years since Taste Of Chaos 2006 when I nearly fainted at the front of the mosh because I thought Lazara looked at me. They have to have gotten worse, right?

Well, in a word, no. Oh my god no. Taking Back Sunday haven't moved on much – they still sound the same as they did on Louder Now, two or three albums ago – but that's really not a bad thing. They're still loud and impassioned and Lazara still has that voice. That voice that sounds like a pack of cigarettes and a heart full of feeling. And with Nolan in the mix it's all perfect, like a night where you bump into your best friend from primary school and it still feels like the old times, like you still love each other with the power of twelve year olds and you can't imagine the world being less wonderful than this.

The songs are still hook-heavy and excitable. Lazara's voice in the chorus of 'Flicker, Fade' yelps and breaks with unconstrained emotion as he throws himself (probably bodily) into the song. 'Flicker, Fade' is definitely a highlight moment, but the whole albums is very, very strong. It's actually hard to really pick many standout tracks because it moves from strength to strength with the same level of enthusiasm and energy pretty much the whole time.

While Taking Back Sunday are absolutely not the same band you fell in love with while blasting 'Cute Without The E' while you painted your nails black when you were in high school (and how could they be, it's been twelve years), Happiness Is is a really solid return to form for them. There's still a lot of energy and enjoyment here, and having Nolan on board again just seals the deal.

Review Score: 8.2 out of 10

Happiness Is is in stores and online from March 18th.