Taking Back Sunday were up against it before they even began recording 'Where You Want To Be'. Regardless of how good this album was in its own right, it was always more likely than not that it would turn out to be a disappointing follow-up to 2002's perfectly balanced, emphatically catchy and ridiculously emo debut 'Tell All Your Friends'.
Whether the band would have been able to repeat, never mind better, this debut with the help of estranged members, bassist John Cooper and guitarist John Nolan is something we will never know. It's hard to imagine, but this is more down to sheer brilliance of the debut - Victory's fastest-ever selling album.
And, yes, 'Where You Want to Be' does seem to be roughly three steps back, the band proving slow to recuperate in its new line-up. The emotional turmoil and anguished screams have been replaced with a more airy-punk sound - what Hollywood would probably see as music to surf to. Not that this is all bad, and there are some great tracks on here, if not any real stormers.
'Set Phasers to Stun' is one of the strongest songs in the listing, and starts things off on a truly positive footing, and the quality tracks keep coming throughout 'Bonus Mosh Pt. II', 'A Decade Under the Influence', and 'This Photograph is Proof (I Know You Know)'. But the further advanced into 'Side Two' the record gets, the more proceedings seem to draw out. The choruses seem longer, the affecting qualities seem to dwindle, and it all gets a little generic.
'One-Eighty By Summer', 'Number Five With a Bullet', and 'Little Devotional' are emblematic of this, and evoke feelings that summarise the album well: good but not great. Those rare beasts that are new to the band should buy this album first to avoid disappointment. Ain't bias just a bitch?
Writer: Tim Newbound