Taking Back Sunday 

Where You Want to Be (Victory)

Taking Back Sunday's second album proves that what did not kill the Long Island quintet -- the sudden and acrimonious departure of two members last year -- has made it far stronger. Strengthened by new guitarist-singer Fred Mascherino and bassist Matt Rubano, Where You Want to Be loses the gawky adolescent yelps and knobby riffs that made Tell All Your Friends sound like Thursday's awkward little brother.

Standouts "A Decade Under the Influence" and the Sunny Day Real Estate-style "One-Eighty by Summer" chug with rounded guitar blasts palatable to mall-punks but edgy enough for Warped Tour lifers, while "Little Devotional" boasts puppy-dog-angst vocal harmonies that put Dashboard Confessional to shame. Still, despite polishing from producer Lou Giordano (Goo Goo Dolls, Sugar), Where You Want to Be isn't unabashedly commercial -- witness the hardcore agony of "The Union" and the screams lacerating "Set Phasers to Stun." Kicking the sophomore slump to the curb and then beating it senseless for good measure, this is Taking Back Sunday's finest moment.


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