Bayside are a band with a consistently good output. Their releases never fail to follow the formula they’ve developed, while adding little bits along the way to differentiate. With every album, the sound they formulated over a decade ago continues to grow. Singer and band leader Anthony Raneri leads us by the hand through songs about alcoholism, death and heartbreak. These very same themes permeate through their new album “Vacancy”. Nowhere is that theme more evident than on the first single “I’ve Been Dead All Day”. It’s classic Bayside both catchy, introspective and rather aggressive throughout.
Right from the jump “Two Letters” gives us some great guitar work and keeps itself interesting. “Enemy Lines” does enough to maintain the momentum but it isn’t a great song by any means. Quite frankly “Pretty Vacant” might just be the best song on the entire album, even if it won’t be a classic like the Sex Pistols song of the same name. From the opening bass lick to Raneri’s ache within his self-loathing, this is a great Bayside track that might just see itself into rotation among the hardest of fans.
At the end of the album there are three tracks that won’t be remembered past the initial listen but really work within the confines of the album itself: “The Ghost” is good enough, “It Doesn’t Make It True” is filler at best and “It’s Not As Depressing as it Sounds” does not sound like a closing track.
Overall it’s the “same old, same old” for Bayside, but does not feature enough strong songs to really plant itself firmly in the pantheon of their best work. Though the singles are very strong when placed against their singles from the past, but these are par at best. Raneri is still a great vocalist, Jack O’Shea murders a few guitars and really at this point (over a decade in) you’d sort of expect them to be a cohesive unit. They are and that is one thing that you cannot teach without those battle scars and that is the wonderful chemistry between them.