Review Summary: Touché Amoré show a penchant for writing catchy hardcore songs that you'll find yourself humming for days.
[i]...To The Beat Of A Dead Horse[i] opens with a track that will tell you all you need to know about Touché Amoré. [i]And Now It's Happening In Mine[i] contains one of the catchiest moments on the record, a melodic bridge I found myself humming days later, but just as you're falling in love, Touché Amoré shift gear into a quick breakdown and ends the track. Touché Amoré don't drag moments out and that's what makes them so endearing. Where a lot of bands repeat and add on to moments such as the bridge in [i]And Now It's Happening In Mine[i], they're content to have it fulfill its purpose and be done. You won't find slowly building crescendos here, what you will find are some of the catchiest hardcore songs ever written.
Laid over these brutally blunt tracks, you'll find matching lyrics. "[i]I'm losing sleep, I'm losing friends, I've got a love hate love with the city I'm in[i]" howls vocalist Jeremy Bolm on [i]Cadence[i]. You see, Bolm doesn't bother with esoteric shenanigans, he attacks with caustic honesty. His lyrics focus in on the dark thoughts that cloud your mind on sleepless nights. Where is my life going on? Will I ever feel less alone? Why is the world so full of ***? Why I am so full of ***? And he does it all with pithy lines that ring in your ears. He even finds room for the occasional pun, "[i]I'll go to Morrissey for answers, cause Ian Curtis has left me hanging[i]" screams Bolm in the opening track, referencing Joy Division's vocalist who hung himself and Morrissey of Smiths fame who is still very much alive. His hardcore howl is perfectly suited to scream such cutting words, even if it does get tiring after a few tracks. To his credit, Bolm makes a few attempts to change his approach. [i]Cadence[i] finds him doing an impression of either Aaron Weiss of Mewithoutyou that immediately brings the softer side of La Dispute to mind. He also inflects a bit of melody into his bellow, most notably on [i]Suckerfish[i]. Nevertheless, Bolm can seem repetitive after a while. Luckily, Touché Amoré seem aware of this as midway through, they bring Geoff Rickley of Thursday in to add a reprieve to [i]History Re***s Itself[i] and Modern Life Is War's Jeffery Eaton gets his turn on [i]Always Running, Never Looking Back[i]. I will also add that my favorite vocal moment of the album was Bolm singing "[i]these closets have been closed too long[i]" on [i]History Re***s Itself[i], his ragged voice softens considerably for just a moment and I would've loved more of that.
Musically, Touché Amoré mostly adhere to simple chugging guitar lines, but they're also adept at softer passages as found in the jangle and licks of [i]Suckerfish[i]. While the guitars do most of the work, Touché Amoré finds room for bassist Tyler Kirby to lay down a haunting bass line on [i]Throwing Copper[i]. The drums shine throughout the record, utilizing blazing blast beats to speed along affairs. However, as often is the case with bands that put a focus on vocals, Touché Amoré have a tendency to simplify behind Bolm, particularly when moving at faster tempos. This leads to a repetitive feeling that is only offset by the brevity of the album. The more intricate moments on the album only heighten my feeling that at times, the band is not working at full potential.
Altogether, Touché Amoré have released a great collection of songs that you'll find yourself coming back to again and again. They show great potential for writing infectious hardcore and will no doubt be a big hit in the mosh pit. For a debut album, Touché Amoré seem very sure of themselves, all that's left is to refine their talents.