Review Summary: 'Two Worlds' could have been the album where Tigers Jaw really stepped up and made a name for themselves. Unfortunately, it lacks the creativity, consistency and quality to do so.
With their second album recently released and their debut UK tour imminent, Scranton, PA quintet Tigers Jaw certainly have a lot to celebrate this Christmas. Their 2008 self-titled album which preceded ‘Two Worlds’ showed great promise as the young band showed themselves to be very capable song writers and musicians who took strong influences from 90’s ‘emo’ and indie and made them their own. However, their debut was far from flawless: occasionally tainted with bewildering lyricism, lazy vocals and sub-standard instrumental sections – though admittedly this may have been down to limited production values. Regardless of such flaws, ‘Tigers Jaw’ was still a thoroughly enjoyable album and its youthful haphazardness made for a very exciting listen. Two years later and the band are back with second album ‘Two Worlds’ and they have clearly worked very hard to amend any perceived faults. The result is an album sounding very similar, stylistically, to ‘Tigers Jaw’, but one that lacks any real danger, and so at times can in fact be a little dull.
To put it bluntly, ‘Two Worlds’ simply doesn’t have the quality to truly grab you and make you pay attention. Certain songs aside, the album moves at a sluggish pace, void of the hooks and interesting melodies that littered their self-titled debut, and this is a great shame. ‘Two Worlds’ is slightly more concise than their debut and it may be that in having only a 25-minute running time they have limited themselves to the point of restraint. The first three songs in particular fly by uneventfully, inoffensive, though they are. What does strike you immediately however, is the improvement in the production of the album – polished, but not overly so, it does
make the songs sound brighter though they still sound flat, formulaic and dispirited.
Considering that much of the album seems lethargic and uninspired it is unsurprising that the some of the best tracks are those which are faster and livelier. The title track, ‘Two Worlds’
joyously buzzes with energy which is excellently contrasted by low vocals and subtly dreamy synths. The two songs immediately following it temporarily alleviate the monotony and briefly bring the album to life. ‘Let’s Go/Trashed Floors’
features some interesting drum parts and shows the band’s hardcore influences; while the soaring chorus of “I don’t feel so invincible any more” in ‘Test Pattern’
will surely make it become a live favourite.
On the whole, ‘Two Worlds’ seems to be something of a regression for Tigers Jaw, far more simplistic than their debut, with less personality. Following a strict blueprint of 90’s ‘emo’ (The Promise Ring, The Get Up Kids), alternative/indie-rock (Weezer) and non-aggressive pop-punk (Transit, Man Overboard) is interesting enough, though the execution of it on ‘Two Worlds’ is tiresome in places. Therefore, the more obvious attempts at creativity stand out and are commendable. The acoustic guitars and delicate rhythm section of ‘I Saw The Wolf’
is without a doubt Tigers Jaw’s most mature moment to date – it’s just a shame that its tired-sounding vocals drag it down. Also, the sudden change from upbeat pop-punk to Brand New-esque alt-indie/post-hardcore at the end of ‘Static’
is, again, inspired.
Tigers Jaw’s self-titled debut showed great promise. It set very solid foundations for them to build from on ‘Two Worlds’, had they chosen to take that route. However, despite fleeting moments of maturity, their latest album sticks largely to the style employed on ‘Tigers Jaw’. Now, of course this certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing, provided that it was of similar quality. Unfortunately, this is not the case and far too much of the album just feels uninspired and limps by without generating interest. However, the more interesting moments on this album lie in songs such as ‘I Saw The Wolf’ and ‘Static’ which show the band successfully moving in bold new directions. ‘Two Worlds’ could have been the album where Tigers Jaw cemented what they have achieved with their self-titled, it could also have been an album where they built upon such achievements. Unfortunately it does neither. Nevertheless, ‘Two Worlds’ is not a bad
album, rather Tigers Jaw simply didn’t realise their potential on it – maybe they will next time around.