Review

Where You Want to Be builds on the hardcore-power-meets-pop-skills of Taking Back Sunday's debut, Tell All Your Friends, and reveals the group to be, in many ways, a quintessential latter-day emo band. Not because they're redefining the style's sound, but because their music is defined by so many of emo's nearly cliché tendencies. A gerund-led band name? Check. Cryptically bittersweet titles like "Little Devotional"? Present and accounted for. Shouty, anthemic vocals, string-driven ballads like "New American Classic," and wordy, confessional lyrics ("Give me a chance? Whatever...you're so hit or miss, and that's so '93") are all in place as well. However, while Where You Want to Be might be more than a little (stereo)typical, it's not embarrassing; songs like "A Decade Under the Influence," "One Eighty by Summer," and "Number Five With a Bullet" do have some real impact, and show some songwriting growth since Tell All Your Friends. But since the band doesn't take the occasionally cringe-worthy risks of some of their emo brethren, Taking Back Sunday sometimes comes off as less than distinctive, and the album can sound like a generic soundtrack to generic teenage angst; even though it's a nearly universal subject, it should never sound routine. Where You Want to Be is definitely a solid album -- especially considering that it was recorded so soon after half the band was replaced -- but crafting something a little more unique would take Taking Back Sunday's music that much farther. [Where You Want to Be was released with a bonus CD of songs and videos from like-minded Victory Records artists, including Hawthorne Heights, Bayside, Action Action, and Silverstein.] ~ Heather Phares, Rovi

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