Bayside have enjoyed big success in the United States over the last decade, yet have struggled to reach that height of popularity in the UK, with the band settling for support slots as opposed to having the likes of Four Year Strong play before them across the pond. ‘Cult’ stands as the sixth full-length opportunity to impress Britain, but fails to stand out from your average pop/alternative rock and suffers from blandness and unoriginality.
As soon as ten seconds has gone by, ‘Big Cheese’ is unmistakably a Bayside track. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s slightly catchy and reasonably enjoyable, but it’s far too safe for an album opener. There’s no sense of excitement or anticipation for the rest of the record and, beside an impressive solo in the middle, there almost nothing to whet the appetite at all; an unfortunate theme of what’s left to come.
‘Hate Me’ builds up tension and excitement for a big explosive chorus, yet disappoints with a monotonous lacklustre attempt at enthusiasm, while ‘Stuttering’ reeks of fun potential with a ‘Relient K’ style sound, but singer Anthony Ranieri‘s nonchalant vocals kill the party before anybody turns up.
It’s not all bad news per say; ‘Transitive Property’ works well as a slower song and is a testament to Jack O’Shea‘s guitar work, while lead single ‘Pigsty’ is one tale of heartbreak on ‘Cult’ that has an element of heart in it. It does unfortunately ask questions about the rest of the album, which just shouts filler at every opportunity. Not enough desire or motivation for outsourcing their fanbase to anyone, but the already devoted has left their music in a stale state. When it’s worked successfully for 14 years, then maybe there’s no point in changing your ways just to convert haters.
Perhaps ‘Cult’ is an appropriate album name for a love/hate band such as Bayside. They’re comfortable with their position in the alternative rock hierarchy and are just here to please their current fans by producing an album of standard rock songs that they’ll lap up without a second thought. Sure enough we’ll hear from them again in 2017 with 12 or so similar tracks and Bayside fans will complacently rejoice as they know they’ll love the predictable album as much as this one.
Written by Mike Heath