It has been quite two hell of a years for Touché Amoré. Since the outstanding Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me came out, the Los Angeles hardcore band has brought their awesomeness all around the world; from explosive headlining club shows to bigger stages, the quintet gained so much experience on the road and expended his fan-base a lot. After a handful of EPs, 7-inches, and splits (their song ‘Gravity, Metaphorically’ released earlier this year on a split EP with Pianos Become the Teeth showed another outlook on TA’s skills), now comes the time for a new album. Most anticipated release of the year might the most accurate term to describe Is Survived By, their third full-length album produced by Brad Wood (Sunny Bay Real Estate, Smashing Pumpkins,).
It must definitely be a laborious task for such a young band to release an equally brilliant album as their previous one, considering all the praises they gained every time they released new material. Yet, it seems Touché Amoré is the kind of band that can do no wrong and Is Survived By is another demonstration of their talent and an explanation to why these guys stands out so much. Yes, it is beyond incredible again.
‘Just Exist’ kicks off with soft guitar chords and a sweet drumbeat topped by Jeremy Bolm’s distinctive vocals and introspective lyrics – “I don’t know what my legacy will be; A song, some words I wrote, or a kid I’ll never see. All of these things scare me half to death”. A breath-taking amount of passion packed with frantic tempos and speedy progressions depicts the follow-up tracks ‘To Write Content’, the duo ‘Praise/Love’ and ‘Anyone/Anything’. The whole idea of Is Survived By is about the notion of legacy and what you left behind when you die. It deals with social acceptance, self-doubt and insecurity. In an ironic way, these honest lyrics contrast with the impressive determination and straightforwardness these guys display while playing.
Touche Amore leaves a lasting impression on every track. It’s pretty diverse and while it might not be as homogenous as PTSBBAM, it’s still entirely coherent. There’s always a soft new riff, a changing of pace throughout the album that brings us a new sensation of surprise and delight (‘DNA’, ‘Harbor’). Elliot Babin’s drum parts are astonishing again and the band provides their familiar blend of screamo/punk all along this LP with an awesome rhythm and tenacity. Guitars provided by Clayton Stevens and Nick Steinhardt are more melodic than ever and truly inspiring. It might not even be a hardcore record in terms of sonorities but it certainly is in terms of honesty and emotion. There’s always an aggressive and frenetic side in their music but the melodic side on Is Survived By is more overwhelming than the rest.
The second half is astounding. ‘Social Caterpillar’ is a furious yet anxious moment; one of the record’s most dazzling tracks, especially when Jeremy sings his heart out “Don’t worry, I still get dizzy in the usual situations”. Most of the guitar tones on Is Survived By are stellar and very clean, sometimes borrowing slow envy-esque post-something soundscapes (‘Non Fiction’, ‘Steps’). It’s accessible and intelligent, harsh and beautiful. The end of this record is also top-notch songwriting and proves that we are dealing with a band that openly swings from crescendo ballades to thunderous tempos. These songs are longer and much more structured than their previous LP and while Touché didn’t lose anything of their obstinacy, the guys brought us experimentations and new stuff without denying their past. They remained the band with the same roots. The title track ‘Is Survived By’ hammers open-hearted lyrics –“So write a song that everyone can sing along to / So when you’re gone you can live on, they won’t forget you”– in a surge of clean riffs. It’s a damn good way to close this beautifully crafted album. We must then repeat this whole thing again.
It’s hard to deny the fact that Is Survived By is a poignant, ambitious and remarkable new step in Touche Amore’s discography. There are so many high points on this LP that it’s pretty hard to describe the feeling that makes you wanna play it over and over again. It highlights what a confident and mature band they have become that’s not afraid to go forward. Is it a game changer? Probably. What we’re pretty sure of is the beautiful legacy Touche Amore will leave behind. Is Survived By was released on September 24th through Deathwish Inc. and I highly suggest you get your hands on this one.
Track List – Is Survived By:
1. Just Exist
2. To Write Content
3. Praise / Love
4. Anyone / Anything
8. Blue Angel
9. Social Caterpillar
10. Non Fiction
12. Is Survived By
Written by Alex Tabankia