Last year when Bayside opened up for Alkaline Trio, there was a definitive element that separated the two bands both known for their impressive live performances. One was pouring it all out, fighting tooth and nail for every last person in the building to sing along. And the other just, well, sort of coasted. The former was Bayside and their on stage performance encompasses the passion that they continuously bring like few other bands do, whether on tour on on a new record. With CULT, the guys from Queens pick up right where they left off, translating the energy of their live act into an outstanding batch of new tracks.
With expectations set high, Bayside came through in a big way. Peppered throughout the album, including the opener “Big Cheese,” are moments of Anthony Raneri and Jack O’Shea’s signature harmonic guitar sound. On the album’s first featured track “Pigsty” and “The Whitest Lie” with the fainest hint of Coheed & Cambria-esque solo, the energy of their live show takes shape throughout the new record. But while the hook-heavy guitars can grab the attention, it’s only one piece of the impeccable across-the-board balance in Bayside that makes them stand above the rest. Chris Guglielmo’s timely and infectious beats and Nick Ghanbarian’s basswork flows flawlessly. Pooled together, the contributions of each member accentuate one another, creating the ideal modern punk rock sound.
The passion in Raneri’s vocals and lyrics exudes the absolute love of his craft. The immense pride in their output starts on the albums second track “Time Has Come” which features direct overtures about the pride put forth in their records and questions regarding their albums living on for years. This resembles “(POP)Ular Science” off their ’07 album The Walking Wounded, where he pines about the rapid decline in quality of pop music. “Something’s Wrong” laments the direction of this generation that we live in without being preachy. “Bear With Me”, my current favorite, lens to a darker side of the band that rarely rears its head, but doesn’t disfigure their sound.
Selfishly, I don’t want Bayside to stray far from the path they’ve charted. Why ruin a great thing? Their music grows and ages well, introducing new elements without shaking the core. “Objectivist On Fire” pulls in some light piano and “Stuttering”, a track title that suits the ensemble well, has subtle organ in the background. Fortunately, there’s no shark-jumping here; you’re simultaneously surprised with the record while getting exactly what you want.
Relentless is a great way to describe Bayside. Ten years ago, they debuted with Sirens and Condolences and since then, they haven’t missed a step. Even still, CULT conjures up a replay ability that exceeds Shudder and Killing Time, which answers the question that spans the album through: Bayside’s albums will stay long after the band hangs it up.