The title of Touché Amoré’s latest entry, ‘Stage Four’, fittingly marks the band’s fourth and most sincere studio full-length in their nine years active, simultaneously concerning the painstaking passage of cancer that tragically took the life of frontman Jeremy Bolm’s mother two years previous. A mentally challenging subject to discuss, the Burbank 5-piece transfer their charitable intentions to mould feelings of grief into an 11-track eulogy that combats the subject matter directly.
But the post-hardcore outfit have never shied away from translating their inner most thoughts onto paper; take the psychological battles overcome on 2013’s ‘Is Survived By’, or the voyage of anguish and torrent that make up the majority of their second full length ‘Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me’ and its lyrical content, no band in this scene can physically transfer an irritated mental state as enthusiastically and brazenly as Touché. Opener ‘Flowers And You’ does so explosively, grabbing you from the moment you press play – “I apologise for the grief, when you’d refuse to eat; I didn’t know just what to say, while watching you wither away” wails an impassioned Bolm, lifting the veil on his rawest of emotions that would have been primitively locked well within. ‘New Halloween’ adopts identical intentions, but channels a pop-punk tone to draw away most of the bleaker lyrical attention and turn it into something a little more buoyant.
An air of genuinity is sorely heartfelt on ‘Benediction’, not that it lacked it previously, but it’s understood through a temperate vocalisation that copiously soars into the album’s most poignant passage – “May the Lord, mighty God, bless and keep you forever; grant you peace, perfect peace, courage in every endeavour”. And successor ‘Softer Spoken’, though anything but, is similarly earnest in its endeavour to tug violently on your heartstrings through melody and foolproof instrumentation, but seemingly bares resemblance to its predecessor ‘Eight Seconds’. Nevertheless, take nothing away from its hearty intentions.
As hearty intentions go, none moreso than end pairing ‘Water Damage’ and ‘Skyscraper’; the earlier as a sombre entry moving hastily into a heavier orchestration, the latter, a climatically exhausted duet from Bolm and Tennessee singer-songwriters Julien Baker, signalling a rather emotive adieu to the emo outfit’s most encompassing full length to date.
In consummation, ‘Stage Four’ exhibits a band ahead of their genre, a genre that would normally encompass out-of-control experimentation at a speculative level – not Touché. They’ve rejuvenated meaning behind music, even after 10 years in the game, and further distanced themselves from the generic drivel that mostly advocates the materialistic facets of life to boldly open up, even about the most sensitive of subjects, and take you places where others dare not.
This Touche Amore article was written by Benjamin Irons, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo credit : June Zandona