When Fred Mascherino left Taking Back Sunday to pursue a solo career, many fans were skeptical that it would sound too much like TBS. But in the history of Taking Back Sunday, with only one original member remaining, three well-known side projects have come out. Jesse Lacey formed Brand New, which began as a pop/punk band, but has recently moved to indie. John Nolan formed Straylight Run, which of course is famous for their song ?Existentialism On Prom Night? which had millions of emo kids singing ?loud and out of key? for most of 2005. Now, with The Color Fred, Taking Back Sunday has officially let their best asset go.

From the get go, it is obvious that Bend To Break is not attempting to be a cheap version of Mascherino?s former band. The first single from Bend To Break is ?If I Surrender?, which sounds at first like it could be any average punk bands biggest hit. But you can?t hate the guy for being a catchy songwriter. Just look at the last two TBS albums and the songwriting credits.

But the album really picks up with the third track, ?Hate To See You Go?. It is quite possibly the best song Bend To Break has to offer, with a great arrangement of acoustic and electric guitars along with strong songwriting. And what is any pop album without a ballad? ?It Isn?t Me? soars with piano and strings, only making this heart wrenching tune radio friendly and accessible. With lines like ?just tell me that you?re sure that I mean nothing to you?, it?s hard not to feel Fred?s pain and just want to give the hairy guy a hug.

The song ?I?ll Never Know? is an acoustic song that sounds strangely familiar. It is a lot like the Taking Back Sunday song ?New American Classic? in which Mascherino shares lead vocals over picking an acoustic guitar with a small symphony in the background. But this doesn?t mean it?s a bad song. Mascherino is just taking what he did great on Where You Want To Be and applying it to his own album now.

The only low point on the album is ?The Tragedy?. It?s got a fuzzy, vintage sound to it, much like Sum 41 and My Chemical Romance have done on their latest albums. However, lasting only a minute it?s tolerable, and unlike Sum 41, it?s not in French so it?s much more enjoyable.

All in all, Bend To Break is a great debut album from a guy who knows how to write a hit. If you are a fan of fun pop rock, pick this album up. It?s worth every penny.

{Reviewed by: Matt Chesley}

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