Hailing from Long Island, New York, Bayside debuted its seventh studio album, “Vacancy,” on Aug. 19. Shifting away from both the typical punk-rock sound that is associated with the band and traditional Long Island punk, “Vacancy” is a refreshing change of pace. It blends the group’s widely recognizable punk side with pop tones, creating something new and remarkable.
“Vacancy” provides a sense of Bayside’s old sound, which fans can get behind, while still introducing a unique, complicated change to its music. There are themes of heartbreak and relationship issues — topics that are traditionally sung about in pop-punk songs. The opening chords fade into traditional rock riffs while lead vocalist Anthony Raneri shouts heartfelt lyrics listeners expect to hear on one of the group’s tracks.
But immediately in the opening track, “Two Letters,” the slow rhythms of the guitar and Raneri’s soft vocals — almost nonexistent in prior Bayside albums — blend with their classic rock roots. It’s a refreshing change, both instrumentally and lyrically. The first song offers the listener a sense of the new musical aspects Bayside has incorporated.
Raneri settles for softer vocal elements rather than his usual strained ones. Along with that, the introduction of higher notes and vocals adds a pop element. The guitarists stray from their normal low, heavy tones; instead, they amp them up, producing higher melodies. Listeners need not expect angry themes and loud guitar riffs as in previous releases. Instead, the album is a collection of more mature tunes, with songs that show the age and progression of a band in its 16th year in the industry.
The rest of the album follows this theme — new, softer sounds and classic rock tones play in intervals as the tracks progress. The classic rock guitar riffs and rough vocals mixed with sweet, slower songs gradually tell a story as listeners reach the end of the album. “Vacancy” is the story of a band straying away from its genre’s norms while still holding on to a hint of the past.
Listeners gain a sense of nostalgia over what rock once was while enjoying what rock now is.