Bayside – Shudder (2008)




before i begin, i have to say it pained me to write this. i desperately wanted to believe bayside represented a new movement in rock, that shudder would be a masterpiece. but it wasn’t, it failed on so many levels. they fell into the trap of artistic compromise like so many bands before them


i first heard bayside back in april, when someone sent me a copy of the walking wounded. i wasn’t too excited about it. bayside sounded like the name of another cookie-cutter, fall out boy clone that embraced the oxymoronic pop-punk genre. i was ready to hate it and then proceed to rant about how much i hate modern rock. but, against my better judgement, i gave it a shot. 


and it surprised the hell out of me. bayside’s two guitar attack was fresh and sonically deep. lead singer/rhythm guitarist, anthony raneri and lead guitarist, jack o’shea, played off each other exceptionally well. their sound was complex enough for musical technophiles yet palatable enough for radio. a rare combination. coupled with strong lyrics and songwriting, the walking wounded was begging to be discovered. 


i immediately got their whole discography (2004’s sirens and condolences; 2005’s bayside; and an acoustic bootleg). while not as refined as the walking wounded, the rest of their catalog was solid. i especially liked their acoustic stuff. generally, acoustic sets expose a band’s weaknesses. but, bayside’s sound didn’t suffer at all from the lack of production or tweaking. and the walking wounded soon found a home in my regular rotation. 


so when i finally got my hands on a copy of their upcoming album, i was excited. not due out until september 30, i felt privileged to get an early listen. i couldn’t wait to review it for sexy gypsy. 


but today as i’m writing this, i can’t think of anything positive to say about this album. bayside has dumbed down their entire sound. they’ve replaced raw emotion with empty energy. just because your songs are faster, it doesn’t mean they are more meaningful. their once thoughtful, incisive lyrics are now just rhetoric. the same old bullshit every other pretend-punk band puts out. o’shea’s epic guitar solos have almost completely disappeared (except on rochambo, where he does a decent job). 


the first single, no one understands, has been streaming on their myspace for a few days now. and it is one of the worst songs on a bad album. cliched lyrics and weak song structure are just a small part of this track’s problems. shudder’s closing track, moceanu, made me want to stab myself in the ear. it was that bad. raneri actually spells out his lyrics. it sounds like a retarded nursery rhyme. it’s fucking painful. 


the whole album in general is just a giant step backward for the band. 


perhaps in an effort to produce a more radio friendly sound, they’ve lost everything that made them stand out among the army of shit bands in the marketplace. i used to say bayside sounded like a harder fall out boy that didn’t suck. but now they just sound like fall out boy. 


this album is absolute shit. i fucking hate it. i hate even more because i wanted it to be amazing. and because i know how good they can be. i LOVED the walking wounded. and their previous albums were all solid efforts.  even their acoustic release showcased their obvious talents. but shudder is truly fucking awful. 


i hope to god, that this is an aberration for a band destined for greatness. but my gut feeling is: bayside is just another band poisoned by its success. 

final grade: D  

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