Music Reviews

Touché Amore Lament

(Epitaph) Rating - 8/10

If you’ve watched the music video for Touché Amoré’s Reminders, an excellent song off their new album Lament, you’d be forgiven for being confused as to why such a dark band made such an adorable music video about things that bring joy. Coming off of 2016’s Stage Four, it felt hard to characterize the five piece’s music as anything other than the most soul-crushing and enthralling post-hardcore that was out there. If you’ve heard lead vocalist Jeremy Bolm’s howl, it’s likely you’d be destroyed by his honest and genuine songwriting—the kind of craft that brings songs like Flowers & You or the Julien Baker duet Skyscraper to be both universally and specifically depressing. With Remindersand more broadly, the group’s new album—it feels like there’s a hopefulness that interacts nicely with the themes and feelings that you’re accustomed to from Touché Amoré. One thing is for sure, though: these guys are still writing and playing at the top of their game, making another album that’s just as brutal as Stage Four, if not a little more palatable for everyday listening.

“If I find my bearings, can I settle down,” sings Bolm on Feign, an omen for the way things are about to go on this album. While personal progress is being made, he’s clearly still pushing through the same issues he was the last time we checked in with him. “I’m not so young anymore” notes Bolm on the sublime Limelight, before contrasting his screaming vocals with a sung part by Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra. Eventually, he reaches a deeply anthemic, pushing climax with the lines “so let’s embrace the twilight while burning out the limelight.” After a slow-burn start, the crescendo feels like a brief second of happiness. The warm Savoring and the love song Come Heroine add to this. There’s joy to be found in this world with the people you love, no matter how dark things can be. Bolm recognizes this on the opener: “Come heroine, with open arms you brought down the walls I defend,” he sings.

Lament’s frenetic emotion is consistently backed by agile instrumentation. The Clayton Stevens and Nick Steinhardt guitarist duo here is front and center as always, whether that’s the country slide guitar of A Broadcast or the thrashing intensity of the brief Exit Row. Stevens’ lead parts on I’ll Be Your Host cohere nicely with Elliot Babin’s driving drumwork to create a song as catchy as a Touché Amoré song can be. The song’s opening fill is one of the most striking parts of the album, right before Bolm’s cynicism comes crashing in (“It’s not what I would have chosen, it’s not what I want at all”). Host also covers the topic of fan-artist interaction, and how diehards have used TA’s music to deal with their own issues, leading it to be one of the most interesting moments on the entire record.

Despite the familiarity of these textures, this isn’t the same old same old for the LA group. A Broadcast moves at a tense, idle pace before unfolding into an explosive final minute, complete with giant emo backing vocals. The album’s most heartbreaking song, closer A Forecast, starts with wandering pianos as Bolm sings at a quiet sung register. “The people I thought would reach out, turns out they would not,” is the line that is front and center here, referencing moving forward with the grief that came from the events of Stage Four without the support that he had wished for. When he mentions later that he’s healed more than he’s suffered, things seem alright, even if he’s still working out what he’s looking for. Suddenly, drums come crashing in and Bolm admits “[he] could use a little shelter.” At that moment, he coughs up the album’s core theme: it’s okay to be less than alright, but it’s easier when people are helping you. Even if Bolm isn’t always at his best, Lament points to a hopeful future.