"Taking Back Sunday's Happiness Is lacks consistency, but gets through to listener"

The Spectrum

Album: Happiness Is

Artist: Taking Back Sunday

Label: Hopeless Records

Release Date: March 18

Grade: B-

With its sixth studio-recorded album, Taking Back Sunday has a lot of fans to impress. And anyone who grew up listening to the Long Island band has a lot to look forward to with Happiness Is.

Similar to Taking Back Sunday's past albums, Happiness Is offers songs illustrating therapy sessions, one-night stands and issues with ex-girlfriends. Though the album itself lacks consistency and echoes past works, it still has a few standout tracks.

Track one, "Preface," provides an angelic-like entrance to Happiness Is. It leads listeners into the album to discover what the band has created these past three years.

"Flicker, Fade," the second track, is noted to be the favorite single on the album. The song starts with a heavy electric guitar mash that lasts for 10 seconds between lead guitarist John Nolan and Eddie Reyes. Once the mash-up becomes a more soothing melody, lead vocalist Adam Lazzara breaks into a sad but hopeful tune.

With lyrics like "If you should change your name / I'll love you just the same / And if you should run away / I would save your place/ So you can go, go, go," the song leads the listener down that sad but hopeful path.

Track three, "Stood a Chance," is another popular song on Happiness Is. Rather than starting the song with a loud lead from the guitarists, "Stood a Chance" begins with a more rhythmic and happy tune from Nolan. The singing from Lazzara sounds more upbeat as he keeps up with the rhythm of the song.

By the end of "Stood a Chance," fans have already listened to two hit singles in a row, but then Happiness Is hits a plateau, until tracks 10 and 11. "We Were Younger Then" and "Nothing At All" escape the usual sound of Taking Back Sunday.

In "We Were Younger Then," Taking Back Sunday strays away from its traditional happy and high-school-sounding tune. It starts slow with a faint sound from the guitar, and then Lazzara comes in. After singing a few stanzas, the song's beat picks up and sounds more like an alternative song.

The album's final track, "Nothing At All," is the only song on Happiness Is that has an acoustic guitar. For acoustic guitar lovers, the song may be for you. It may start slow, but it picks up a little toward the end. The track harkens back to the album's first song with its angelic sound.

Though the band offers much of the same sound as its previous albums, Taking Back Sunday's newest work still has hits - and misses - with the plateau between tracks three and 10. And overall, Happiness Is should please most fans.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com