Review Summary: Is Survived By is awesome. Listen to it.
What Touché Amoré accomplish with Is Survived By
is extraordinary. After the disappointing lasting appeal of Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me
, the band seems to have set out to write a statement, a record that has enough depth to warrant coming back to it after their trademark and incredibly catchy brand of fast paced and intense “wave” hardcore initially hooks you. Whereas previously they were content with not exploring their sound to any great extent, allowing their pulsing rhythms and tempered aggression to carry nearly entire records alone, on Is Survived By
they branch out, with the band taking their sound farther than they ever have before.
It could be that the change is sparked off by the band borrowing more heavily from fellow “wave” band La Dispute, as Jeremy Bolm takes a bit more of the bouncy cadence Jordan Dreyer utilizes and adopts a similar storytelling persona for a good portion of the record. The interplay between Bolm and the rest of the band is far more interlocked as well, as through his strained and passionate screams and yells the band find the correct ebb and flow to pace themselves. As usual, drummer Elliot Babin is the highlight, often making a song his own with his incredibly eclectic drumming, as he frequently switches from insanely fast punk rhythms interspersed with drum fills that he has no business being able to fit to his brutal and crushing mid-tempo delivery. The guitarists have also taken steps to ensure a greater variety with some gorgeous guitar tones and fantastic intertwining playing reminiscent of old emo stalwarts You and I and Hot Cross.
The strength of the record is the fact that the songs feel more like songs now. Shedding the restrictions of just being a ‘hardcore’ band, Touche let songs reach heights that they never have by allowing themselves room to jam a section out, to let a particularly cathartic moment play for longer than a few seconds. “To Write Content” features a middle section that slows and perfectly punctuates a sad tale of artistic depression that would have never found home on previous records. “Non-Fiction” is a slow-burner that once again brings legitimate comparisons to older emo bands like Julia and Joshua Fit For Battle, rising deliberately until the band finally reaches that musical climax they've always hinted at. This sort of twist on the formula helps keep Is Survived By
from the stagnant sound that had mildly plagued them earlier, and makes the entire record sound more honest and expressive as a result.
Their weaknesses are mostly covered up by all of this, as the far expanded songwriting helps to hide Bolm's mostly monotone delivery (although this time it never becomes as contrived as it had been on Parting…
) and the often hilariously obvious and cheesy lyrics. This is a band that is so comfortable in their sound that they didn't have to change much to take a huge step forward-Touché Amoré have created their most ambitious and complete album without sacrificing anything that made people fall in love with them in the first place. Whether or not you’re a fan of their earlier, grittier material or their newer, more polished recordings, Is Survived By
is a massively engaging and surprisingly triumphant record, and you cant expect anything but for them to continue to add to their ranks of love-moshing fans with an album that is just so damn solid.
”So write a song that everyone can sing along to
So when you’re gone you can live on
They won’t forget you"