Making the jump to a major label can be a tough one for a punk band with a self-described “cult” following. So when Bayside’s contract with Victory records ended after 2008’s Shudder, singer Anthony Raneri turned to friends for help.
Luckily, the band’s frontman and lyricist is friends with some pretty influential musicians, from Matt Pryor of the Get Up Kids to Thrice’s Dustin Kensrue to Evanescence’s Amy Lee—all of whom lead bands on major labels—and after consulting with them, Bayside weighed their options and ultimately signed with Wind-Up Records.
The band then hired Gil Norton to produce their fifth studio effort, Killing Time. Norton has worked with alt-emo giants Jimmy Eat World (on 2004’s Futures) and Dashboard Confessional (on 2003’s A Mark,A Mission, A Brand, A Scar), but his jewel may be his work on Foo Fighters’ The Colour and the Shape, which earned the band rock and roll staying power as well as four radio-friendly singles.
What became of Bayside’s turn with Norton is very much the same aggressive, emotional sound that made the band one of Victory’s most beloved, albeit with a more mainstream tone this time around. While bassist Nick Ghanbarian joked in a recent interview that none of the songs on Killing Time could not have appeared on any other Bayside record, the final mixes sound much more polished and louder than past cuts.
Ghanbarian is also right for a different reason. Each of the songs on previous Bayside records have a collective feel, from the raw punk sound on their sophomore effort, 2005’s Bayside to the heavier yet more complex The Walking Wounded (2006)to the lighthearted, poppy Shudder. Each album is a different experience in its own right, and Killing Time is no exception.
Drawing from the band’s rise to mainstream rock to Raneri’s recent divorce, Bayside once again draw on personal themes in some of the wittiest lyrics they’ve written. “I curse to hell the magistrate / who granted this unholy fate” kicks off the first single, “Sick, Sick, Sick,” an aggressive tune about Raneri’s split.
The creativity and aggression come together on tracks like “The Wrong Way,” a cynical look at a relationship with a girl who is both immature and promiscuous. Raneri sings: “And I believe in futures but I can’t afford to wait / You’ve been doing it the wrong way / And someday you’ll find something that makes you feel okay / Until then you make your own way.”
The album does have its softer moments, particularly on songs like “Mona Lisa,” which was inspired by Raneri’s desire to write a song with as many chords in it as possible, and “On Love, On Life,” a reflective song about growing up.
The record is Bayside’s most mature, both sonically and lyrically, because Bayside is at the most mature point in its career—veterans of the Long Island punk scene who recently celebrated their 10th anniversary show at Farmingdale’s Crazy Donkey venue.
If anything, Killing Time combines elements of each of Bayside’s previous records, a sign that even though the band is 10 years old, its best musical days are still ahead.