Taking Back Sunday’s new full-length studio album, Happiness Is, represents something of a comeback for the post-hardcore heavyweights. It is their first independent release in over a decade, and the third album featuring the original lineup. But fans expecting a return to the classic TBS angst may be disappointed.

The single ‘Flicker, Fade’ is the kind of guitar-heavy anthem you would expect from a TBS album. Adam Lazzara’s gritty vocals are layered over plenty of powerful riffs and thrashing snares. The most interesting track is arguably ‘Nothing At All’, a heavily layered, sombre number that has strong post-rock influences. But the clear standout is ‘Better Homes And Gardens,’ a deeply personal departure from the band’s recent work. The movement from Lazzara’s quiet confidences about the breakdown of his marriage to the noisy chorus feels the most like the angst-ridden rock that put TBS on the map. But even this song feels slightly too engineered.

The album, as a whole, is best described as solid. Maybe it is the nostalgia talking, but it is hard not to feel a twinge of disappointment at how very neat it is. Taking Back Sunday have matured musically, but may have lost some of their emotional power in the process.

2.5/5 stars.

Happiness Is is now available through Hopeless/UNFD.

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