Cult is the sixth studio album from punk rock band Bayside, and it boasts a grown up, sophisticated sound that stays true to their roots and the importance the band places on musical consistency in order to maintain their fanbase. Shying away from their usual songs of heartbreak and loneliness, Cult is a ‘greatest hits’ for the seasoned Bayside fans, a reward for having grown up with the Queens boys. Exploring themes such as fulfilment within romantic relationships; personal growth and discovery; and perhaps most notably, candid commentary on the music industry the band have made their life from for the past decade and a half.
The record starts off strong with the powerful Big Cheese, a great way to start off an album that could be seen as an introspection. Whether this punchy, catchy tune dealing with the concept of being “swept under the rug” is a reflection of their personal lives or a comment on music as a whole - Bayside have commented on rock’s growing irrelevance within contemporary music – it remains relatable and sticks in the head throughout the rest of the album. With lyrics like,
“And there will be a day when I sadly outlive all my useful traits/And when I look back I want to know that we were more than just a fad”
the track draws poignant attention to the fleeting nature of fame, success and what it means to make an impact on the world through artistry. Ending the song, neither with a bang nor a crescendo but a line that sets the mood for all eleven songs Cult has to offer; “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” An album truly for the fans, what a way to start off by saying thanks.
Honestly, it’s Bayside diehards that need to be heartily expressing their gratitude, not the other way around – track 5, Pigsty, could be the best thing the band have thrown at us in a very long time. With just the right level of growling emotion in the vocals, with gritty guitars that somehow manage to sound polished as hell, with the anger and ethic of punk rock coupled with an overriding sense of how much time has gone into making the instruments sound perfect, Pigsty could be the first Bayside song you ever hear, or the last, and you’d still walk away satisfied.
“Your name is filth,” you hear through your headphones, and filth never sounded so bittersweet. It’s rare for a song written about liars by a bunch of dudes with long hair to be able to teach a lesson, but hey, it’s becoming clear that Cult is an album that truly breaks down barriers.
The perfect mix of nostalgia and a healthy desire to move forward, it would have been nice to hear something a bit more raw, a bit more reminiscent of Sirens and Condolences, but by the sixth or seventh track it stops becoming an issue; Bayside wax lyrical about how they value the loyalty of their fans over musical progression, but compare them to the young men they were in 2004 and you’ll end up blown away by the sophistication of this latest release. Lyrics such as,
“‘Cause you’re my rock if I’m still yours”
speak to their audience on a deeper level than most contemporary rock bands make the effort to do.
Bayside hope to hit us up down under later in 2014.
A polished, powerful sound from Bayside yet again. With standout tracks such as Big Cheese, Pigsty and Objectivist On Fire, there’s something for everyone, fans new and old. It’s going to sound way better live than it does on the record, because angsty dudes with long hair spitting lines like, “I hate you and baby you hate me” into microphones feels so much more authentic when there’s a few thousand sweaty people screaming along with them.
Risks haven’t been taken with the production, the lyrics or the musicality, but if you know anything about Bayside then you weren’t expecting it anyway. What is it they say? Progress for progress’ sake is just as stagnant as a standstill? Cult certainly isn’t a standstill, it’s just the next step for a great band who’re growing up very slowly, very cautiously, and very well.
Their impact will be felt on rock music for many years to come.