In 2015, Bayside will celebrate its 15th year as a band. That’s right: babies that were born the same year Bayside formed are entering high school. Fans of the band may very well be younger than the band’s career. It’s a staggering statistic to consider, especially considering the band’s rocky past (the death of their drummer “Beatz,” being stuck on the Victory Records roster, who knows what else). Thanks to their persistence, however, they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt with most things that they do. So what if they want to cover Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls” for the Punk Goes series, it’s fine, because they took that song and made it into a breezy, whimsical song that sounds like one of their own. And if they want to do a five-song covers EP, title it Covers, Vol. 1, and then never do another volume of it? No worries, hopefully they get around to it at another time. Take three years between full-lengths, despite Killing Time taking the band to its greatest heights? Sure, take you time. Re-release that aforementioned follow-up to Killing Time almost exactly a year after, with four bonus tracks, to celebrate that aforementioned 15th birthday? Do you, Bayside. Do you.
Despite Cult carrying quite a few songs that fit right in among the band’s best tracks, Cult: White Edition attempts to further expand the ideas the band explored on the release. Bayside presents this new edition in two parts, the first being the album as it was originally released. With Cult‘s original tracklisting is still in tact, the band are clearly not trying to reinvent the wheel, so why should we? If you’d like to see The Garden Statement’s review of Cult, you can do that by clicking here. Since its release in 2014, the album has stood the test of time well, as songs like “Big Cheese,” “Time Has Come,” and “Objectivist On Fire” proving to be the strongest of the bunch. “Transitive Property” is a great sidekick for Walking Wounded standout “Landing Feet First,” and “The Whitest Lie” is a great way to end the original album tracklisting.
The second part of the tracklisting is likely where you will be hearing new songs for the first time. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve by now at least heard about the controversial track “Dancing Like an Idiot,” which finds Bayside taking a more outward stance against the bands they’ve regrettably shared the stage with at various festivals, but, more specifically, Warped Tour. The track focuses on the messages these bands they’re calling out are sending to their young, impressionable fans. “There’s consequences to what we say and what we do,” Anthony Raneri sings, “while you’re dancing like an idiot, they’re looking up to you.” It’s a point that deserves to be made, but the decision to base an entire song around is an interesting one. Many of Bayside’s peers have spoken out against other bands before (Senses Fail frontman Buddy Neilson chief among them), so it’s not something that’s out of the blue for them, but the band do run the risk of looking like the old man telling those darned kids to get off his lawn, too. It’s a fine line to walk, but luckily Bayside have the chops to balance it out well enough.
The second track of the newcomers isn’t all that new for Bayside die-hards, as “Indiana” was the b-side song of the band’s 2014 Record Store Day release, a 7″ featuring “Time Has Come.” “Indiana” a track centered around anger and self-loathing, which sets up a neat parallel between the outward-looking criticism of “Dancing Like an Idiot.” Up next is a pleasant surpris for fans clamoring for the band to continue their Covers series, with a cover of Blondie’s “Call Me.” Highlighted by Jack O’ Shea’s always-outstanding guitar work, “Call Me” is another reminder that Bayside is quite adept at taking covers from different eras of music and adding their thumbprint to it with ease. Wrapping up the quartet of new tracks is the Park Slope Version of “Transitive Property.” While the band trades in their electric guitars for a stripped-down acoustic approach (featuring piano and string arrangements as well), the vocals still soar on the track, and the guitar solo translates very well to the stripped-down setting.
There is plenty to enjoy about the White Edition of Bayside’s sixth full-length album. For starters, the tracks on the original version of Cult still hold their weight very well. While there’s always the threat of backlash when “calling out” other bands in the scene, the band do so unapologetically on “Dancing Like an Idiot,” and show they’re not afraid to turn the scope on themselves in “Indiana.” The band also showcase their ability to take other songs and make them into their own on the intriguing cover of “Call Me,” and their ability to reimagine their own songs on the new version of “Transitive Property.” Thanks to a groundwork of great tracks that were laid forth before it, the new additions to Cult: White Edition are a meaningful, worthwhile submission to Bayside’s already wonderful career.