It must have been nerve-racking enough for this Long Island-based hard rock quintet to follow their 2002 breakout album, "Tell All Your Friends." Their sincere, raw debut helped them elbow into the center of the hype exploding around the heart-bearing sound of emo. And then two band members quit last summer, just as they were due to tackle the Vans Warped Tour. The band rebounded quickly, finding replacements, playing the summer's final gigs and recording its follow-up, "Where You Want to Be." The change has done the group good, as it has developed and refined its sound. We're not talking sonic revolution here -- Taking Back Sunday still plays straight-ahead hard rock ablaze with earnest emotion and desperation-fueled vocals -- but the band stirs things up with fresh tempo shifts and melodic flourishes. Singer Adam Lazzara and guitarist/vocalist Fred Mascherino (one of the band's new members) make better use of their alternated vocals to build tension. "This Photograph Is Proof (I Know You Know)" finds the vocals stretching and cracking before adopting a heartfelt croon, while "The Union" is an explosive rocker with frantically bleating guitar. They test their range with the gentle ballad "New American Classic" and the slow-building intensity of ". . . Slowdance on the Inside." But the band and its fans can breathe a sigh of relief, thanks to a deft, self-assured follow-up. Taking Back Sunday performs on the Vans Warped Tour in the Gillette Stadium parking lot on Aug. 19.
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