Taking Back Sunday (TBS) made dancing to heartfelt Emo music a pastime. It is crazy to think that it has been twenty years since the Long Island natives introduced us all to ‘Cute Without The E’ and the dynamic that would become one of Emo’s most beloved staple: Tell All Your Friends (Victory). To celebrate those two decades that came up so quick, the band has gathered nineteen of their repertoire and two new songs into a greatest hits album perfectly titled, Twenty (Craft).
Sure, the band has also changed lineups quite a lot in those two decades but this compilation does its job in representing the best of their career. Starting off with three tracks: ‘Cute Without The E,’ ‘You’re So Last Summer’ and ‘Timberwolves At New Jersey,’ TBS marked their place on the map with the epitome of teen angst: Tell All Your Friends. The album was solid and those tracks were just the best that they had. John Nolan’s guitar on this debut made the songs instant classic. His departure alongside Shaun Cooper’s for the sophomore Where You Want to Be (Victory) was definitely felt but introduced fans to Fred Mascherino and the great direction the band was heading into.
The next three songs in the compilation ‘Set Phrases to Stun,’ ‘A Decade Under the Influence,’ and probably the best breakup song they created ‘One-Eighty By Summer’ represents the second album. But fans wouldn’t really see the potential Mascherino had until 2006’s Louder Now (Warner Bros.).
Louder Now was the experimental phase of TBS and sadly, the last to feature Mascherino. His talent was much felt in what the band would release later on but ‘Liar,’ ‘MakeDamnSure,’ ‘What It Feels Like To Be a Ghost,’ and ‘My Blue Heaven’ take up a good chunk of this compilation and captures the band’s essential energy that transcends into their live shows. Mascherino’s and Adam Lazzara fed off each other so well in this part of the band’s career. Mascherino left the band and in came Matthew Fazzi for 2009’s New Again(Warner Bros.) It was different but just repetitive and on Twenty the band choose the two better songs to represent: the catchy ‘Sink Into Me’ and the complex ‘Everything Must Go.’
By the time 2011 came, Fazzi alongside Matt Rubano were out, but to everyone’s happy surprise, Cooper and Nolan from the debut came back for the self-titled, represented by ‘Faith’ and the amazingly crafted acoustic, ‘Call Me In The Morning’. ‘Flicker Fade’ follows which is from 2014’s Happiness Is (Hopeless) but ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ is the better track from that era.
Their most recent release from 2016, Tidal Wave (Hopeless) was by far their most diverse and mature songs to date with a title track a feel-good Country Rock song that stands alongside ‘You Can’t Look Back’ and ‘Call Come Running.’
The last two songs on this hits album are the new original ones and don’t feature long-time rhythm guitarist, Eddie Reyes. ‘All Ready to Go’ released in early December is more of an alternative rock song with the typical catchy verses that made us fall in love with TBS in the first place but in a more groovy, mature way and final track, ‘A Song for Dan’ is a slower jam, leaving a sincere ending to a hits album that only feels like the beginning of another twenty years.
Taking Back Sunday didn’t have to put out a greatest hits album. Now a quartet could have just created their eight studio album or celebrated another anniversary but they decided that celebrating all their hits was the proper way to keep their momentum alive. Granted, the first half of their career will always be their better half but this collection shows that they keep true to their Emo grounding while continuing to mature sonically.
7 / 10