Back in December, Taking Back Sunday was so hyped about a new song that they played it at their second annual holiday show in New Jersey. That song, “Tidal Wave,” is now their newest single and the title track of their upcoming album. When discussing the new album, guitarist John Nolan shares, “…It’s the culmination of things we’ve tried over the past two records. I think it’s the strongest record we’ve done since getting back together. We’ve freed ourselves up to go in new directions.“ Though slightly different from the typical style of music the band has released in the past, it’s a change that fans are excited for.
Frontman Adam Lazzara discusses the difference in sounds from their previous releases sharing, “With our first records, we were writing from the perspective of 17, 18-year-old kids and now it’s like, as you grow old, the blinders get pulled back and you have a different way of looking at the world. There’s more of an Americana feel. But we realize anything we do is going to sound like Taking Back Sunday.”
A debut EP is basically a gimme, right? When studio time is
being doled by a salt shaker, the idea of coming up with any sound that’s
better than “competent” can seem unfair. The things that make a band matter—all
that junk about a specific sound that no one else has, and an energy and
delivery that makes it work perfectly is probably best judged once there’s a
full album, when being in the studio isn’t quite as much of a luxury.
So it’s especially impressive to listen to Marco With Love,
who apparently is a guy named Marco and his band named Love. Last year they
released the kind of first single, also titled “Love,” that does exactly what
it needs to. With a mix of 60s-reminiscent jangle pop guitars that prove the
band is living up to their namesake, a smooth
rhythm section that sounds much more modern, and an earnest gruff vocalist,
it’s got good style and tight song craft that should make anyone curious for a
full EP. There’s enough confidence and freshness in this lead single that an
entire five songs rehashing it could have easily been an okay start. Which is
why MWL’s Tidal Wave EP is so weird,
and more importantly, good.
Tidal Wave doesn’t
sound anything like “Love.” It sounds like country-fried alt-rock, which if you
want to be annoying about arbitrary genre specifications, differs from
alt-country because the latter pretends that it’s from the country when it’s
really from the city and this one doesn’t bother pretending. It sounds like Ryan
Adams’ most recent album. As someone who is a sucker for just about anything
that Ryan Adams does, this is a good thing. But even if you’re not as obsessed
with Mandy Moore’s ex-husband as I am, Marco With Love doing it is still
definitely a good thing.
The title track starts off the EP with an energy that keeps
the open road moving. “Leave It All Behind” simmers that down to a cocky
swagger, and the closer “Poor Young And Gifted” doubles down on the rough
sincerity in Marco Argiro’s voice for a tough ballad. And then there’s a cover
of Townes Van Zandt’s “Waiting Around To Die.” Covering Van Zandt is a smart
idea, since his sound and attitude pervade the best parts of the EP, but it
also highlights quite how not-quite-country the band is. When you’re living in
Brooklyn and considering Westchester to be the countryside, then then a
full-throated country ballad of love, loss, and time doesn’t quite connect.
But the weakness of Marco and his Love’s cover abilities
highlight exactly what is so impressive about Tidal Wave. They sound like themselves. They’re doing it in a
country rock style that should be old and repetitive, and they sound different
than the version of themselves that they were a year ago, but they’ve managed
to create a sound that is self-assured. They’ve done it twice now. To be
honest, I like their jangle-pop start more than the country-twang rock, but I’m
not complaining about either. Mostly, I’m looking forward to what they do next.
Release Date: July 17th, 2015 Run Time: ~16 minutes Rating: 4/5
Track listing: 1) Tidal Wave 2) Leave It Behind 3) Waiting Around To Die 4) Poor Young and Gifted