Written by: PP on 17/02/2014 23:55:15

But I have to write a love song, cause my momma said I should. But I have to lose the minor chords, And I'm not so sure I could. Cause I'm the voice of the depressed, and that's what everyone expects. Give the people what they want sings Anthony Raneri on "Stuttering", which is arguably the biggest sounding Bayside song to date. Although it was probably not his intention to sing about his status as the Bayside vocalist, that is exactly how the passage comes across even if I've taken it slightly out of the context here. For better or worse, Bayside have been one of the leading bands since their debut album in 2004 in terms of writing consistently great melancholic rock songs, and Raneri has undoubtedly been an iconic voice for most fans of emotive rock throughout the years, which continues here on "Cult".

But yet they've never had a proper breakthrough. "Cult" is their sixth album and they're still a considerably smaller bands in terms of following than Anberlin, one of their closest contemporaries sound wise, leading me to often use the phrase criminally underrated in articles discussing Bayside. They've never been as immediately catchy as The Swellers or as powerful in their emotive delivery as Anberlin, having always relied on more subtle melody lines instead. A Bayside album has always required a few extra repeat listens before growing on you, and rightly so, because the depth found in Raneri's melancholic croon can be captivating in the right circumstances. "Cult" is no exception to that extent, and so if you've liked previous material from the band, you'll be happy to know that "Cult" sounds pretty much exactly like those albums, with minor, mostly cosmetic differences.

But at the same time, it is clearly the most polished and wide-open Bayside record to date, containing some of the brightest ("Time Has Come") and most far-reaching melodies of their career. "Stuttering", which I mentioned earlier, is an arena-sized rock song, and "You're No Match" is equally huge, both candidates for the most ambitious songs in terms of soundscape that they have written to date. Opener "Big Cheese" sees Raneri sing more aggressively than usual, here recalling Anberlin's Stephen Christian in the way that his voice nearly breaks into a scream at the end of his lines. These are the tracks that you can argue portray the small adjustments in their sound from "Killing Time" three years ago, yet the album's highlight is "Pigsty", the angular and quirky piece that takes you back into classic Bayside: slightly introspective and odd, with the chorus melody leaning rather more on the subtle side than the arena rock choruses of some of the other tracks here. "Something's Wrong" and "The Whitest Lie" also fall in this category, although the latter one does have choral sections in the background to give the song some additional size.

All that being said, "Cult" is basically a continuation of the same path Bayside has always been on. It's slightly different from their previous material, but the evolution is so minor that I wouldn't blame anyone for saying they're doing a Bad Religion here for the 6th album in a row. Nevertheless, "Cult" is still as consistently great as all their other albums, so I'm not one to complain.


Download: Pigsty, Stuttering, Something's Wrong, You're No Match
For the fans of: Anberlin, These Green Eyes, Peace Mercutio, The Swellers
Listen: Facebook

Release date 18.02.2014
Hopeless Records

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