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Bayside | Killing Time

Album review by John Powell

Bayside  | Killing Time

Finding differences between one pop/punk band and another is reliant mainly on the vocalist. Most can pump out powerful guitar/drum/bass walls of sound, but it’s in the cohesiveness of the groups, fronted by certain lyrics and vocal performances, that make one band stand above the rest.

Bayside is one of the better contemporary groups in this category. Singer/guitarist Anthony Raneri utilizes such a subtle sarcasm and heightened sense of self. Certainly, to overlook Jack O’Shea’s guitar, Nick Ghanbarian’s bass, and Chris Guglielmo’s drumming is to miss how tight this four-piece is, but Anthony sounds a bit like Ben Folds, especially on the slower “On Love, On Life”, (also with horns and strings). The way the songs come off, like these boys just get it, makes Killing Time worth investigating.

Take “Mona Lisa”, for example. “Maybe I was asking too much,” Anthony shrugs, “but I don’t think it’s likely.” With “na-na-na’s”, a waltz-i-fied bridge, a short breakdown, a ripping guitar solo, and many returns to the hook, it’s pop convention, but it’s catchy and fun, so who cares?

There’s also a bit of angst. On “Sinking and Swimming on Long Island” Anthony states, simply, “This place is dragging me down.” And on “The Wrong Way” he says, “I don’t think you’re on to something good right now.” Bayside has come far enough that everything has a confident tone. Maybe they’re not sure what Right is, but they will point out what’s Wrong.

A key track is “It’s Not a Bad Little War”. It’s so freaking catchy that you’ll hit the back button as soon as the last note begins to ring out. “I wish upon a satellite/that wrong can turn our right/believe me,” Anthony shakes his head. “We aren’t the only friends we ever had.” Add in handclaps, a slippery guitar solo, and it’s a textbook lesson on how to win over an audience.

As said, “On Love, On Life” is a slower track. “Can we stop taking ourselves so seriously?” Anthony asks over piano and violin crooning. The song builds over three and a half minutes, swirling into a beautiful climax. Most of the album is pure adrenaline, so it’s nice to see Bayside show off their slower side, though it’s by no means the token ballad.

Yet, five albums deep, Bayside are on the brink of riding convention to the point where they’re not saying anything too important anymore. Killing Time is more of a project to prove an album can blitz in and out and leave an impression. Still, there fails to be any details. The lyrics are general. “You made a mess of things,” Anthony raves on “Sick, Sick, Sick,” but what I want to know is, what kind of mess and who made it, exactly? If we’re being picky, I also don’t like how articulate Anthony is, but every now and again “You” is pronounced “Ya”. It sounds forced.

Overall, Killing Time is quick, sharp, and loud. It’s straight-up for the fan of pop/ punk, which- come on, admit it- is most of us. The juxtaposition of a well-toned band singing songs about being unsure and sure about it, makes Bayside’s fifth live up to it’s name, but not in a bad way.


 

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