If I told you that Bayside were an emo-leaning pop punk band that’s been touring off the MTV2-watching, misplaced-angst crowd for about seven years now, you might think that a rating such as the one up there would be appropriate. The truth is, I reluctantly regard Killing Time as “meh,” because I actually love the genre of music that bands like Bayside play. There’s something about those compressed guitar chords and feminine singing that gets me more enjoyment than I should when I come across a band that can perform it without succumbing to the immaturity that is incumbent upon that genre of music. Songs like The Starting Line’s “Best of Me” and Paramore’s “Misery Business” can seem to some like empty calories, but they are some of my favorite songs of the past decade. On their fifth album, Bayside do not get close to achieving this feat. Despite having most of the musicianship and looks of an MTV Spring Break act that I could respect, their flaws are the very same ones that have befallen countless bands before them.
On Killing Time, Bayside sound like a harder edge Motion City Soundtrack in more ways than one. Both groups write music nowadays with production that shines them of imperfections like marble and Anthony Raneri has a very Justin Pierre-like boyish shrill. However, what puts Killing Time into more of the ballpark of Motion City Soundtrack’s unconscionable dud, My Dinosaur Life, rather than that same group’s saving grace, “Everything Is Alright,” is that Raneri cannot resist attempting to be lyrically clever, a decision that often bears the brunt of my criticism of Killing Time. Raneri sounds overbearing when he boasts about writing a song about apathy in “Sinking and Swimming in Long Island” and snidely (at least to him) chastising a former lover with the comment, “I gave you all / You gave me less” in “Sick Sick Sick.” In Killing Time, Raneri calls girls “cyanide perfume” and “the black ice on my way home” and makes a chorus out of the line “Mona Lisa you’ve really done something / Done a number on all of my organs.” While these phrases could be worse (after all, they could be Motion City Soundtrack lyrics), they’re still terribly awkward, and damnit if they don’t take me out of the album every time I try to give it a chance.If Killing Time will serve any purpose for me in the future, it will be as background music for a time when I get sick of replaying my copy of Bleed American for my emo-punk fix. Guitarist Jack O’Shea should be proud of his work on the album, because his riffs and arrangements are catchy and original, even brandishing some serious soloing chops on songs like “Already Gone” and “The Wrong Way,” but Bayside, as a group, cannot seem to overcome the lyrical pettiness that inevitably makes them sound unprofessional, no matter how much they compress those guitars. If you don’t take much stake in lyrics, I would recommend Killing Time. However, I’m more content to continue to wait for another group that can write hooks like Bayside and still cover most of their bases at the same time.