No unique identity
No unique identity

Taking Back Sunday

After listening to Taking Back Sunday's third album, it's quite clear why the band's fan base consists of mainly adolescents. Like their prone-to-conformity teenage admirers, the Long Island quintet prefers to let outsiders dictate what they sound like -- and hasn't yet cultivated a unique identity. Whereas producer Lou Giordano helped the band craft power-pop-leaning punk bursts on 2004's Where You Want to Be (an emo Buzzcocks?), new producer Eric Valentine chose to gussy up Taking Back Sunday's sound with conventional radio-punk polish. While this gloss often makes for a catchy listen (just try to remove the vaguely Kinksian "What's It Feel Like to Be a Ghost" from your mind), what shines through most is how formulaic Louder Now sounds.

"MakeDamnSure" soars with the same dramatic, slowed-down denouement as My Chemical Romance's "Helena," and "Liar (It Takes One to Know One)" cops the motor-mouth tempo and verbose accusations of Fall Out Boy. Meanwhile, the twin-vocal delivery from Adam Lazzara and guitarist Fred Mascherino emerges as faceless angst. It's all an improvement over Taking Back Sunday's anemic, sub-screamo days, sure -- but still a disappointment in terms of artistic growth and originality.


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