By Sarah Hughes (@hollowcrown)
In the Spring of 2002, New Jersey-based band Taking Back Sunday released their debut album, Tell All Your Friends, on Victory records. As newcomers to an overcrowded scene TBS delivered originality from the offset; collating the most exciting elements from hardcore, punk and pop, they created a dazzling hybrid that paved the way for a new generation of emo. This new generation were kids set on rejecting the norm and were more connected than ever before via the internet.
Victory Records were quick to take advantage of these aspects and allowed very limited radio play of the album’s singles. Alternatively, the label distributed the songs onto online emo forums and early social media sites like Yahoo! Online and MySpace; a move that was key to the record’s success as it was the first of its kind. The record was a huge hit in both rock and mainstream charts, and became certified gold in 2005 – to this day it’s Victory Records’s longest charting release; proving just how timeless it is.
The opening track, You Know How I Do, sets the tone for the whole record and teases at Taking Back Sunday‘s full potential. It feels like a soft introduction to their signature of overlapping vocals, telling a story from start to finish, full of heartache and rage. Three tracks in we get Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From The Team), arguably the band’s most famous song in their 15-year career. In this song we get the full hit of the band’s personal style. While being an anthem for the scene with pop-infused pessimism, it manages to avoid the cliches of the genre. The bridge of the song hears backing vocalist, John Nolan, lament the lyrics: “hoping for the best is hoping nothing happens, a thousand clever lines unread on clever napkins, I will never ask if you don’t ever tell me. I know you well enough to know you never loved me” while front man, Adam Lazzara screams into the void:”why can’t I feel anything from anyone other than you?“. The lyrics and execution were excellent outlets of emotion for a discontented youth, the “sing-a-long” appeal of this song in particular provided escapism to kids, and that is, in part, Taking Back Sunday‘s appeal. Partnered with a Fight Club-inspired video, it’s easy to see why this single was so popular.
In the second half of the album we get the catchy You’re So Last Summer. Hardcore influenced guitars introduce the song, followed by Lazzara‘s hollering vocals. With lyrics like “you could slit my throat, and with my one last gasping breath, I’d apologise for bleeding on your shirt“, this song is a notable benchmark for the record, and the band in general, as it showcases their ability to beautifully balance dark frustration with heartache.
Tell All Your Friends‘s legacy is evident in its growing popularity, spanning almost two decades. This record continues to attract new fans, as well as provides an emotive, nostalgia-ridden, throwback for twenty-somethings, who are now embarking on adulthood. The angst expressed by Taking Back Sunday at the time of TAYF‘s release continues to resonate with new fans while simultaneously maturing with the older fans – this is what makes Tell All Your Friends a timeless album.