Some albums are released as ready-made classics. Of course, I’m sure every band strives for that achievement with each album. But there are some you just know will hold up for years, long after phases and trends. Albums that defy the year they were recorded or genre they’re a part of. Louder Now, the third album from Taking Back Sunday is easily one of those records.
It’s hard to believe Louder Now is officially over a decade old this year.
Like the decade before it, 2006 saw a shift in the music industry. The music was once again mobile thanks to Apple’s iPod. Where the major labels had anxiety attacks thinking of music being ripped from CDs, Apple hit it head on and found a way to turn a profit on it! It seemed like everyone was listening to music more than usual. With this turn of events, niche artists were once again being picked up by major labels to capitalize on young listeners. Taking Back Sunday had utilized their indie momentum to get noticed by many major labels.
With the emo movement grasping its last breath, most artists from that particular movement were in flux. Should they hang on and ride the popularity wave until it ends, or try to latch on to mainstream success? The fad was losing its charm and these artists had to make the tough call.
This is the moment where Taking Back Sunday took their career by the horns.
After 2 successful indie albums, Taking Back Sunday found themselves on Warner Bros. Records. They were given a hefty budget, studio time, and zero time limit to come up with their major label debut. Queens Of The Stone Age producer Eric Valentine helped the band fine tune their sound for a radio audience. The result was Louder Now. An aggressively hungry arena rock record full of confidence and vigor while maintaining their sensitivity and punk wit.
From the opening guitar riff of “Whats It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?”, everyone knew this record was a departure. Gone were the frantic back-and-forth vocal lines between singers and the hard-then-soft guitar spurts. Replacing them were controlled vocals and well-produced guitar compositions. Thundering bass and merciless percussion. This was Taking Back Sunday on steroids. This was the death of emo.
Louder Now didn’t destroy what Taking Back Sunday’s past, it enhanced it.
Despite refining their signature sound, Taking Back Sunday was still very much the same band from their previous release. Songs still dealt with heartbreak, emotional distress, and the highs and lows of relationships. But Louder Now saw the band grow up. It wasn’t about dragging your feet or slinging dirt when you’re done wrong, it was facing your heartbreak with maturity. This angle signified the end of the movement Taking Back Sunday had their hands in crafting. Yet it didn’t feel like betrayal or ‘selling out’
For me, this is where Louder Now excells. It took the same Taking Back Sunday mythos and shined a new light on them. The band had grown up along with the fan base. This connection between band and fan is what makes Taking Back Sunday so special. They know exactly what they’re good at and have no problems with trying new things as they grow. They were on the same journey as the listener.
With Louder Now, Taking Back Sunday proved they were more than a fad, but legit artists.
The transition from indie darlings to mainstream recording artists was smooth and almost painless for Taking Back Sunday. Louder Now debuted at number 2 on Billboard and introduced millions to their brand of alternative rock. There was a spike in sales of the band’s previous works as well as sold out concerts across the world. Not bad for a band only on their third full-length album! However, maintaining that popularity and creative momentum was a bit more challenging on Louder Now‘s follow-up. (but we’ll save that story for the future)
I recently got my hands on the vinyl reissue of Louder Now from Warner Bros. and the moment I dropped the needle on it was magical. Of course, I’ve listened to the album throughout the past decade, but hearing it on this format was different. The warmth and rich production is superior to that old CD I had in my early 20s. Every note and hook felt just as powerful and satisfying as it did way back then. Not surprising, it holds up today! Further proving Louder Now is, in fact, a classic album in every sense of the word.
For more information on Taking Back Sunday, visit takingbacksunday.com