I still remember being pretty taken aback by just how good Tidal Wave was. I came to expect catchy pop-punk from Taking Back Sunday, but not, however – and especially at this point in their careers – anything that sounds like “Death Wolf.”
“Death Wolf” is the fulcrum – the tipping point – that proves Taking Back Sunday have finally and once-and-for-all found their voice. It takes a few listens to sink in, but holy shit is it beautiful. The faded chants that start and end the song – nobody will know – give it a cyclical feel, and for the first time it’s as if Taking Back Sunday sound like fully matured versions of their angst-ridden former selves. The punk-ish vibes are still here in full force, especially in the verses, but the entire song is glazed over in this summery atmospheric haze that feels more dynamic and mature than any of their past recordings.
It may be blasphemous to draw such a comparison, but Brand New accomplished this markedly with The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, when they grew out of their clever one-liners and discovered the meaning of life. I’m not saying that “Death Wolf” sounds like that album at all, but the feeling is the same. Here it’s as if the band has finally arrived. The subsequent output is one of the very best TBS songs, and also one of the best of the decade.