Bayside is best described as that friend of yours that just can't catch a break. They try and try, studying hard for every test but only getting by with a B+ instead of the ever elusive A. They put out incredibly solid material on every album, but they are always one step behind making a masterpiece. 2007's “The Walking Wounded” came closest, but a few filler tracks prevented the album from getting a perfect score. So how does “Cult” stack up?
The answer is a resounding “yes”. Bayside has finally released not only what can be considered a “good” record, but what some (including myself) will deem as exceptional. All of the formulas from previous albums are at work here, and to excellent measure. They've kept what worked and expanded upon it, and the weaker parts were tossed. This is the sound of a band with 14 years of experience, and they're definitely going to show it off.
If you're familiar with the band, you probably already know what to expect, sans a few surprises. Raneri's signature coon is once again at the forefront, displaying a sense of confidence and swagger we just haven't heard from him before. Coupled with his tried and true angsty and emotional lyrics, his voice is a powerful means of conveying these songs and their messages. As well, the instrumental segment of Bayside is tighter than ever and display much more technical efficiency than a Pop Punk style band should. Jack O'Shea's lead guitar is a definite highlight of the album, with great licks and fantastic solos abound. The druming sounds better than ever, and Chris Guglielmo proves his worth behind the kit.
The lyrical content of “Cult” is very enticing, with a lot of songs focusing on Raneri's divorce and women issues. “You're No Match” in particular stands as a bitter cannon fire at his ex lover. Featuring a chorus consisting of “You are the monster I was scared you'd be. And now you're blaming it on your surroundings. And your horns came out so gradually, But honey you're no match for me.” you can definitely tell that he is pissed and is holding no punches. Delivered with a certain confidence that permeates the album, you can almost hear the grin on Anthony's face as he sings it. This trend also carries over into the songs such a Pigsty and Hate Me. Pigsty in particular finishes with the lyric “My life with you is like tying my own noose.” Ouch.
The part of Bayside that I think most people are attracted to (including myself) are the self referential “doubting one's self” style songs. Songs such as the opener “Big Cheese” open up on the fear of being forgotten. The lyrics “I love to be wanted but all I want is to be loved”, are shouted over swirling guitars, making sure the message is driven home. “Stuttering” is what will most likely go down as one of the best songs the band has ever written. It's a honest, heartfelt song that stands as one of the best tracks on the entire album.
“Patience don't pay, get my nose back in the books.
So I can keep on making cash for heartless fucking crooks.
And they prey on all my passions,
'Cause they know as well as me,
That this is the only way that I know how to be.”
Bayside does break it up a bit on the number “Transitive Property” which is being viewed as the first straight up love ballad the band has done. The song is sweet and sentimental, and is a sound/topic the band should explore more often. Finally “White Lie” finishes up the album with a haunting yet rousing chorus. Right up under “Stuttering” as the best track, this is an album closer to be remembered, and I'm sure we will see it represented in all upcoming shows.
While the album isn't something Bayside hasn't done before, it is the most cohesive and and successful album they have done to date. “Cult” is proof that the band still isn't done yet. This is the year where Bayside stops being the main support and moves up to that headliner spot. Good job guys. You finally got that A.
Catch Bayside on their The Great American Cult tour with Four Year Strong, Daylight and Mixtapes. Dates are listed below.
Mar 5 Beachland Ballroom Cleveland, OH
Mar 6 The Crofoot Ballroom Pontiac, MI
Mar 7 The Rave Milwaukee, WI
Mar 8 Concord Music Hall Chicago, IL
Mar 9 Fubar St. Louis, MO
Mar 11 The Summit Music Hall Denver, CO
Mar 12 Club Sound Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 14 El Corazon Seattle, WA
Mar 15 Hawthorne Theater Portland, OR
Mar 16 Slim’s San Francisco, CA
Mar 18 The Glass House Pomona, CA
Mar 19 Hard Rock Live Las Vegas, NV
Mar 20 House of Blues San Diego, CA
Mar 21 House of Blues Los Angeles, CA
Mar 22 Club Red Tempe, AZ
Mar 24 The Door Dallas, TX
Mar 25 Mohawk Austin, TX
Mar 26 Warehouse Live Studio Houston, TX
Mar 28 Revolution Fort Lauderdale, FL
Mar 29 Beacham Theater Orlando, FL
Mar 30 The Masquerade Atlanta, GA
Apr 1 Cat’s Cradle Carrboro, NC
Apr 2 Baltimore Soundstage Baltimore, MD
Apr 3 The Trocadero Philadelphia, PA