Pinpointing the reasons behind the critical acclaim bestowed upon LA’s Touche Amore thus far is not particularly difficult. Firstly the band has successfully mixed elements of modern hardcore and screamo with such subtlety and fluidity you’d almost be forgiven for failing to identify it. Nevertheless, the two genres work well together and give TA a sound that is indisputably their own. Add to this winning combination of genres the band’s ability to pen succinct, catchy, but no less affecting songs, and you may begin to understand the reasons for their success. To an extent, the band’s third album (second if you don’t count their self-titled debut as a full album), ‘Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me’ looks to build on this template. It is short and sweet, undeniably catchy thanks to a newly accentuated sense of melodicism; but it lacks the genre blending abilities of its predecessors, and so runs the risk of losing the band’s identity. Fortunately Touche Amore still have enough style and talent to pull it off.
This dilution of the band’s identity is possibly one of the most immediately noticeable aspects of ‘Parting the Sea…’ and on first listen at least, this threatens to plague the album. At times, the band find themselves lost in a sea (excuse the pun) of vague, bland melodic hardcore. The sinking feeling (sorry) this gives is worsened by lyrics which clumsily manhandle topics such as travelling, gratitude and reclusion – nevertheless they are infectious, and the chorus of ‘Home Away From Here’
just begs to be screamed along with. Ultimately though, for all its faults ‘Parting the Sea…’ finds Touche Amore at ease with themselves both in terms of the comfort with which they transition through the differing sections of ‘Method Act’
, and in terms of the contentment communicated in their lyrics; and ultimately this is sufficiently endearing.
Perhaps the second most striking aspect of ‘Parting the Sea…’ is its overall increased melodicism. While the vocals may lose some of their gut-wrenching hoarseness, the melodies and harmonies of the band’s two guitarists work tremendously. One needn’t look further than ‘Pathfinder’
for some of their most impressive guitar work to date; while overtly harmonious sections are pulled off commendably in ‘~’
as both offer abrupt dynamic diversity. Meanwhile, the rhythm section admirably performs its task in workmanlike fashion: rarely grabbing your full attention but always firmly supporting the guitars. Despite the album’s neat brevity, TA still manage to utilise relatively accomplished song structures, with ‘The Great Repetition’
and album closer, ‘Amends’
being the best example of this. This brevity means that ‘Parting the Sea…’ doesn’t outstay its welcome; though it does slightly hinder Touche Amore from reaching the heights that their newfound dynamic range hints at.
Overall, ‘Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me’ is a solid effort from Touche Amore – as if we’d expect anything else. At this stage in their career it would have been easy for them to release another ‘… To the Beat of a Dead Horse’ and just let their audience lap it up. As it turns out they haven’t done this, although ‘Parting the Sea…’ is still recognisably, characteristically Touche Amore. Overtly melodic, it generally trades in the screamo of their previous work for melodic hardcore and more general punk-rock influences, and on the first few listens this is disarming. Ultimately though Touche Amore are more than capable of moving out of their niche, albeit tentatively, and creating great hardcore records. Furthermore, theirs is a talent that may very well see them become favourites within the genre for years to come.