Tigress – ‘Pura Vida’

By Fiachra Johnston

Nothing puts a halt to the summer quite so sharply as a sudden pang of self-realisation. Spent too much money on holidays? Had a fight with your best friend? Come to the conclusion you’ve become so self absorbed that it’s skewed your perception of the world and separated you from the true reality of life? For Tigress at least, that last one hits a little close to home – and after releasing three dazzling EPs, their debut album ‘Pura Vida’ sees them tackle that exact scenario head on, embarking on a quest to disconnect from the unnatural insular lifestyle online media has built for us and with suitably chaotic results.

The dirty guitar lines that lead into the first track, ‘Generation’, set a grungy scene for our protagonists to scathingly espouse their mission statement of fighting against the generational ennui built up by the world. These stinging guitars and scauldy bass lines are part and parcel of the Tigress sound, but it’s not just memories of grunge that are brought to the table here. ‘Choke’ evokes new-school alternative rock like Nothing But Thieves with sultry, breathy vocals and a pop-punky chorus to get you off your feet, while ‘F.L.Y’ features an absolutely killer bass line (think Krist Novoselic’s Nirvana levels of chunky), and there’s even some Muse-like distortion as vocalist Katy Jackson absolutely belts out the final bars of ‘Feel It’, one of her stand out moments on the record.

There are a lot of musical comparisons to be made throughout the record, but nothing feels out of place. Tigress are savvy enough in their production and instrumentation to avoid making anything sound like a cheap knockoff, and the punk-as-fuck lead single ‘Disconnect’ acts as a perfect demonstration of how clear a vision the band have for their own work, a paradoxical mix of silky vocals, gritty guitar, and drums whose runaway-train pace will get your heart racing.

There’s nothing particularly outside the band’s wheelhouse in the album’s 11 songs, no big jump in style or experiments in their sound, so if you’ve liked what the quintet have put out before you’ll no doubt continue to enjoy it here without being caught too off guard. Nevertheless, there’s so much variance in what influences them from song to song that it’s impossible to claim the band have settled for a mundane release; Tigress have pulled out all the stops for their debut LP, drawing influences from far and wide to make this their most refined and comprehensive release yet.

The last third of the album loses a bit of its aggressive momentum as the band bring in a pace shift on ‘Starting Tomorrow’, a quiet acoustic  lament on inevitably procrastinating the change Jackson has screamed for previously, and ‘New Friends’, a chugging declaration of separating yourself from the ones that only feed into your self-absorbed nature. They do reclaim some of their energy by finishing off in grand fashion with the melancholic ballad of ‘What The Hell (I Feel So Unwell)’, a suitably grandiose ending to a debut LP.

‘Pura Vida’ is indeed often a melancholic listen, but it’s by no means a completely cynical record. Rather, its 40 or so minutes present a rebel’s anthem for confronting the world and reclaiming yourself against a wave of social dissonance and dissociation. This is a truly punk rock record, wrapped up beneath myriad musical styles that pair beautifully with Tigress’s signature flair for the self-loathingly dramatic – so if you’re looking for a soundtrack to love-hate the world to this autumn, you may just find it here.

FIACHRA JOHNSTON

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