By Rob Barbour

‘There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive’ is technically – and we’ll get onto that later – the seventh studio album from New York Stalwarts Bayside. It also represents the band taking an entirely new approach to the concept of what an ‘album’ is. The band have long insisted that they don’t care whether they “get any bigger or not”, being satisfied with the sustainable touring career they’ve built for themselves. They play for thousands of people a night in the US and Australia (not so much the UK).

But 2019’s career-best record, ‘Interrobang’, could have given them a shot in the arm. People who’d never cared were paying attention, and those of us who had been paying attention for almost 20 years were pleasantly surprised to hear the band let rip with the kind of metallic riffs virtuoso guitarist Jack O’Shea is never more than seconds away from peeling off his fretboard. The end result was an invigorated sounding band, writing vital and relevant music for the first time in over a decade.

But then of course, 2020 happened. And like countless other bands sitting on a career-reviving record, Bayside were relegated to waiting until they could get back out on the road. By which time the moment had passed.

But instead of flogging a dying horse, Bayside headed back into the studio and between 2022 and 2024 we’ve had no fewer than two EPs and two singles. The ‘Red’ EP indulged their no-frills pop-punk sound, the kind found on ‘Shudder’, ‘Cult’, and ‘Vacancy’. The ‘Blue’ EP hinted at a return to the frantic riffs and almost metalcore influence of ‘Interrobang’ – even including an appearance by Ice Nine Kills on standout track ‘How to Ruin Everything’. 

Expectations were high for ‘There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive’. Whether or not they’ve been met depends on whether you’re willing to judge it as an album, or as a compilation album with a few extra tracks thrown in for good measure. Because here’s the thing – while it’s been sequinned as well as it can be, and feels like an album, ‘There Are Worse Things Than Being Alive’ is every Bayside song you’ve already heard for the last two years, with a handful of new songs thrown into justify the ‘album’ label.

And here’s the other thing; it’s still really good. Sure, it’s not as coherent as an album written-and-recorded as such – how could it ever have been – but the pop-punk sounds are the ones that sound out of place and as usual, Bayside are at their best wearing their heavier tendencies on their sleeves and then pressing those sleeves directly into your face. 

Opener ‘Devils’ goes harder than any alleged pop-punk song has any right to; single ‘Castaway’ fits in nicely and bridges the gap to the first run of EP songs. The momentum keeps up until two-year-old song ‘Strangest Faces’ pops up and sounds far better than it ever did as part of an EP.

Bayside have been a band for longer than some of the people reading this have been alive. They have, broadly speaking, three distinct modes but this – melodic songs that are catchy to the point of infuriation, effortlessly melded with the speed riffs and guitar solos that Sum 41’s most recent album is desperate to foist on you. But the difference is, this isn’t Bayside doing a bit; it’s who they are.

Yes, it would have been great to get an album full of new songs. But people aren’t buying albums anymore and frankly it’s a miracle Bayside are visiting Europe this Summer, so I guess the new model works. 

As an album, this will be better the less you’ve heard of it already. But as a collection of songs from one of the most underrated bands on the planet, it’s going to be on rotation all summer long. Now get out there and go see them lest they don’t return for another 7 years.


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