New York’s Bayside has been a staple in the modern punk/rock scene for quite some time, but they’ve still managed to fly under the radar. Their 2005, self-titled release brought about one of their most popular tracks, “Devotion and Desire”, which happens to be where I first heard of the band, myself. However, these guys were just getting started. Now, 9 years after that release, we’re just on the cusp of the release of their newest effort, “Cult”. 2011’s “Killing Time” saw them breaking new ground, forming a sound that was a bit heavier and, shall we say, out of the normal for them. The album’s lead single, “Sick, Sick, Sick” really got my attention and pumped me up for the rest of the album, which did not disappoint. In fact, to this day, it was one of my favorite albums of that year! However, if you were expecting “Cult” to be anything like that, don’t let yourself get disappointed when it’s not. Bayside are the kings of innovation and they will never make the same album twice.
Starting with the opening track, “Big Cheese”, an unrelenting force that you might think will give you a taste of what the rest of the album is like, but you will soon learn, that notion is wrong. In the beginning of the track, Chris Guglielmo’s drum work is the star of the show. The guitar work on this one is blazing fast and it gives you a good idea of what guitarist, Jack O’Shea is capable of, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The next track, “Time Has Come” could easily fit as a top contender on a top 40 type radio show. It’s catchy, it’s groovy and it will definitely get you moving. The lyrics are about breaking out of the crowd, finding your calling, reaching for the stars and fighting for it with all you’re worth. Any fan of Ranieri’s previous work will know that he’s a lyrical genius and, of course, “Cult” serves as a reminder of that. A couple of tracks later, we’re introduced to a more familiar track, “Pigsty”, which was offered as a gratis-download when pre-ordering the album via the band’s website. This one, instrumentally and lyrically, certainly has a darker feel to it. Bayside have always been the type of band to make sure that they capture each and every intended emotion with their music and lyrics. Next, is one of my favorite tracks, “Stuttering” which is a love-song like track that speaks about finding the right words to say in certain situations. “Who I do think I’m kidding, like I’m Robert fucking Smith. Maybe I’m trying to convince myself that I’m someone who’d be missed, cuz I’m the voice of the depressed, that’s what everyone expects, give the people what they want and it hangs over your head. I’m stuttering, cuz I never know what to say. I’m stuttering, can’t listen to a word I say.” This part especially is about people expecting you to know the words to say in every situation when you feel too weak to carry on. You’ve carried the weight of the world on your shoulders for so long and it’s bearing down, leaving you little time for words of wisdom, as the people expect. The next track is a bit slower-paced than the previous ones I’ve covered: “Objectivist on Fire”. It’s a beautiful track about being true to yourself, but getting lost in the thick of things and falling short of your goal.
Overall: You will either love the album or hate it. Chances are, if you’re a die-hard Bayside/Ranieri fan, this will fall into your radar and you will play it over and over. However, if you’re just starting out listening to the band, I recommend going back and listening to some of their older work before heading into this one, because it will give you an insight as to what they’ve gone through to get here in the past 10 years. I, personally, absolutely loved the album. It was surprisingly much better than I anticipated and I recommend it to anyone who is reading this, whether you’re a fan of the genre or not! Be a part of the “Cult” and pick up this album when it gets released February 18th, through Hopeless Records!
“Pigsty” Official Lyric Video