Touché Amoré – Lament (Album Review)
Touché Amoré – Lament
Released: October 9, 2020
Jeremy Bolm // Vocals
Clayton Stevens // Guitar
Nick Steinhardt // Guitar
Elliot Babin // Drums
Tyler Kirby // Bass
There is a saying in Tibetan which reads: “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.”; the great Dalai Lama XIV recited this and detailed the quote with: “No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster”. In retrospect, it could be argued that this teaching could be the most vital in reflection of the world’s current status – to say that our existence has been traumatised and altered would be a drastic understatement, but even in the dire conditions we have faced and continue to be afflicted by, we have held onto hope. 2020 might be one of the worse chapters the human population ever experience, however, we have not lost our strength, it has been built upon.
Jeremy Bolm, vocalist and lyricist for California’s new wave post-hardcore low-key luminaries Touché Amoré, could be the spokesperson for the aforementioned quote; in 2016 the quintet presented an opus in the form Stage Four – the band’s fourth studio album and the tribute record to Jeremy’s mother who passed from cancer. This LP encompassed such significance and beauty that attempting to describe its power and brilliance even today, would be unfitting. Touché Amoré remarkably embraced influences from The National and Nick Cave yet still upheld their raw screamo melodic hardcore roots.
The pressing question is although, is it possible to follow and further an artistic achievement that holds such immeasurable value? To be brief, undoubtedly – especially when it comes to an act of this magnitude. The answer though is not in exceeding, but differentiating. The inspiration, pain, beauty, love, honesty and reliability are more than evident on album number five: Lament and thankfully there are notes from their distant past and present delightful ‘Displacement’.
If the readers have had the distinct pleasure of witnessing Touché Amoré in a live setting, many astonishing facets about their stunning showcase would certainly be astounding and memorable, but it is Jeremy’s disuse of the microphone and yelling acapella that most-likely astounded the witnesses. What a perfect introduction to the new record with ‘Come Heroine’: “From peaks to blue, come heroine” recorded in that exact value – raw, unedited, desperate and honest. What follows? The formula their fans adore and many more should love – loud, quiet, tough, tender, hardcore and heavenly (in a heavy way). Four years is a long absence, trust this scribe, it is worth it.
The title track furthers the opener with almost too much refinement – there is an 80s disco costume seemingly utilised with the song and it is fearfully flawless; appropriately Jeremy Bolm screams: “You think by now I know my place, but I lose it almost every day”. Who doesn’t? On reflection, the band are experimenting with new sounds; there is an endless search for meaning still with the loss of his mother and maybe the current state of life due to the pandemic – there is a difference here and also a definition.
‘Feign’ has the signature “Calm vs Chaos” that the five-piece are renowned for; fortunately though it has a subtle yet sensational Joy Division bass bridge with Mr Bolm screaming: “Do I die a little less often?” – this excellent expansion and versatility is one only life worldliness can provide; it is no secret that the quintet have undergone and incredible journey. Single ‘Reminders’ sees the uncanny return of the delightful Julien Baker who featured on Stage Four and she should be in everyone’s vinyl collection. This is unquestionably Touché Amoré at their pop-punk best and in all sincerity, that should be more than enough testimony for those who are lost to find immeasurable love for this band.
On the topic of guest vocalists, there may not be a more imperfectly perfect matching than Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull on ‘Limelight’. What an ambiguous adventure and outstanding outcome – the song is so eerie and ingenious it has actually redefined both bands impossibly. ‘Exit Row’ and ‘Savoring’ would work well on the band’s past records (Is Survived By) but are also upholding the trademark style with brainy blast beats we have all come to love. ‘A Broadcast’ will arguably be the most skipped track of 2020 and it is unfortunate. Upon introduction, it sounds like a drunken adventure in Nashville and a Western movie binge – nevertheless, from the daring comes danger and this versatility becomes virtuosity. Did you ever hear Alexisonfire‘s ‘You Burn First’? Did the disgust become delight? Just asking.
‘I’ll Be Your Host’ is the catchiest song TA have written; so much so it could be a Presidential song – that actually isn’t an exaggeration, it could not be more suiting #pleasevote. ‘Deflector’ is the throwback to Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me – it sounds like Jeremy Bolm has realised his movements but knows his poetry means everything to him than his adoring audience and always will. It has discomfort, but a hesitant clarity which is lasting.
To conclude, ‘A Forecast’ – a piano ballad to start and an uneasy one to appreciate, but a track that shines hope. Jeremy bleeds his words of honesty and it is relieving and beautiful – we felt his pain and now we feel his integrity and character. When the uppercut hits with the song quickly intensifying and he screams: “I could use a little shelter, I’m still out in the rain”, it is ‘Benediction’. “Touché Amoré” means “Touch Love” to a degree; the band shares their ‘Reminders’ – let us ‘Praise / Love’ such incredible things.
Touché Amoré – Lament tracklisting:
1. Come Heroine
6. Exit Row
8. A Broadcast
9. I’ll Be Your Host
11. A Forecast
Lament is out now via Epitaph Records. Purchase here
Review by Will Oakeshott (@teenwolfwill)
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