In a recent interview, Touché Amoré frontman Jeremy Bolm commented on his producer’s willingness to front the costs for the band’s most extensive recording process ever, on their fifth album, Lament: ‘I would say, “I don’t want to be taking advantage of you”
and he would say, “You’re not, I’m living for this”. He simply didn’t want to stop.’ Such a statement applies equally well to the listening experience with Touché Amoré.
From the frantic, threadbare …To the Beat of a Dead Horse to 2016’s Stage Four, which chronicled Bolm’s mother’s death from breast cancer, listening to this band has often felt like an intrusion into the life of a stranger, an exploitation of their grief. And while grief is certainly easy to come by these days, one of the most refreshing things about Lament is its unassuming nature. “I had to remind myself that I don’t need to write a record that is this or that”, Bolm says. “It’s the most straightforward that I’ve ever been”.
From this freedom has sprung innovations from outside their usual post-hardcore sound. They incorporate pedal-steel guitar in Americana passages on ‘Limelight’ (their longest song by a long margin, clocking in at a glacial 5:03) and ‘A Broadcast’, as well as pop-punk leaning singalongs such as ‘Deflector’ and ‘Reminders’. These are hardly radical leaps for a band already operating close to these spheres, but they seem to hold a new, communal edge. When Bolm complains that “The people I thought would reach out/Turns out they would not”, the frequent vocal features on the album begin to be framed as a search for solidarity. Bolm’s voice often used to be drowned out in their previous albums’ oppressive silence but here, more than ever before, it is supported by so many others.
The album nevertheless maintains Touché Amoré’s record of consistently combining the extremities of hardcore technique. ‘Deflector’ leans towards indie’s piercing guitar tone, while ‘Savoring’ pulls back to a more open and sustained post-rock sound.
When Bolm needs to be quiet, drum brushes and folk percussion temper his cracked inside voice. When he needs to be drowned out, they do a pretty good job too. In the best way possible, despite so much negative change this year, Touché Amoré have released a record confirming that neither they, nor the grief they channel through their music, is going anywhere, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Image: Saul Torres via Flickr