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Album Reviews

Album Review: Touché Amoré – Lament

 

Release Date: 9th October 2020

Record Label: Epitaph Records

For Fans Of: La Dispute, Pianos Become The Teeth, Thursday

 

It’s been four long years since Touché Amoré hit us with the emotional wrecking ball of Stage Four, a record many view as the band’s magnum opus, which detailed the loss of vocalist Jeremy Bolm’s mother to a battle with cancer. Are we ready to get sad again? We’re ready to get sad again.

‘From piece of blue, come heroine’ screams Bolm far from the mic, leading the band into a break neck intro to new album Lament. As the title of the record suggests, we’re still dealing with sorrow and loss, albeit from a less immediate viewpoint, and with a glimmer of hope. It would be remiss to think that the new Touché Amoré album would be brimming with sunshine; besides, is that what we want from Touché Amoré?

The beginnings of Lament date back to September last year, when the band released the first single ‘Deflector’. A definite highlight from Lament, the track demonstrates the impact the loss of a parent has even many years later, with Bolm expressing his newfound emotional reticence. ‘I test the water, I won’t dive right in, that’s too personal, I’m too delicate’ provides the scream-along chorus that will surely be a new fan favourite.

While ‘Deflector’ was not announced as a track from what would be their fifth full length, it indicated the band were back to work, and this time with acclaimed producer Ross Robinson. Robinson, known for his seminal work in the nu metal scene (Slipknot, Korn, Limp Bizkit, for those of you who need examples…), has brought his own influence to the record without compromising the emo quintet’s sound. Don’t worry, nu metal haters! There aren’t any turntables on this album! Instead, the band have incorporated some of the pop sensibilities found in nu metal (yep, you read that correctly). A greater focus on arrangement and instrumentation, catchy choruses, focus on dynamic shifts between sections, it’s all there. Touché Amoré had already been displaying a knack for these songwriting skills as their albums progressed, but the addition of Robinson helped refine their talents.

Follow up single ‘Limelight’ (which also brought the reveal of a new full length) continues the theme of difficulty in displaying emotion. Drawing attention to the ‘post honeymoon’ period, the band provide an account of how couples will eventually diminish their open displays of affection, but still retain the feelings with subtle actions. Bolm screams ‘so let’s embrace the twilight, while burning out the limelight’ during the song’s bridge, accompanied by Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull in a superb pairing that finds both vocal layers intertwining. The track notably features a pedal steel outro, a new string to the band’s bow that is scattered tastefully across Lament. The result creates an alt-country sound one might associate with Pinegrove or Wilco – Touché Amoré aren’t quite at the stage of singing about pick-up trucks and girls in denim shorts, thank god.

Despite the somewhat sombre tone to the lyricism, upbeat moments can be found on Lament. Latest single ‘Reminders’, while dealing with coping methods for depression, conjures parallels to many pop punk bands. Add some down-picked power chords and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were listening to Blink-182 circa their self-titled. Stand out track ‘Feign’ ricochets from rapid fire choruses to tom driven verses, displaying elements of post-punk during the bridge.

Ultimately, Lament is a record about growth and maturity. Not just about dealing with the hardships one faces in life and the difficulties in relationships, but learning how to change, or to accept certain situations for what they are. This is paralleled with the musicianship apparent on the record. Not only have Touché Amoré sought out new contributors for their album, as well as exploring new instrumentation, but the tracks themselves are longer, displaying a shift away from the angst driven sound which is often associated with screamo. Even the most militant of country-music haters will have a hard time turning their noses up at beautiful gliding tones of pedal steel.

 

Rating: 8/10

Recommended Tracks: ‘Deflector’, ‘Feign’, ‘Limelight’

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