Touche Amore – ‘Lament’

By Liam Knowles

It’s been four years since Touche Amore released ‘Stage Four’ – a devastating record built thematically around vocalist Jeremy Bolm losing his mother to cancer, covering all the mourning, regret and hindsight that comes with loss in such painstaking detail that many found it difficult to listen to. New album ‘Lament’ details what life has been like for the band since then, tackling themes of fragility, empathy, politics, and love while pushing forward a newfound sense of hope.

Touche Amore have always been great at hard-hitting opening tracks, and ‘Come Heroine’ is no exception as it comes clattering through at breakneck speed with the band’s distinctive blend of bright, angular guitar tones and penetrative, melodious bass lines setting the stage perfectly for Jeremy Bolm’s naturally brash, unrefined vocal style. This track has a rabid sense of urgency, harking back to the band’s early days of two minute punk-rock ragers, but combining it with the more expansive songwriting approach they’ve been honing over the last few records.

There are actually a few moments on this record that feel like old-school Touche, but always with the refinement that has grown with them since the release of art-hardcore masterpiece ‘Is Survived By’ back in 2013. ‘Lament’ is the perfect blend of the band’s roots in hardcore – best showcased in the pummeling ‘Exit Row’ and the pointed riffing of ‘Feign’ – and their more eloquent side, which is distilled into more sombre numbers like ‘A Broadcast’ and mournful piano-led closer ‘A Forecast’.

It feels reductive to try to pick a highlight on ‘Lament’, because as we’ve come to expect from Touche Amore it’s a real journey rather than a simple collection of songs, but special mention needs to be given to ‘Limelight’, arguably the band’s most ambitious track to date. It’s an ode to the positives of a plateauing relationship, the safe space that only exists when you know someone inside out and no longer have anything to prove to each other. Part of Jeremy Bolm’s appeal has always been his no-frills vocal style, so the fatigued, imperfect strain of Manchester Orchestra vocalist Andy Hull is the perfect accompaniment. The two weave in and out of one another as the song reaches its crescendo, resulting in a sound that is somehow both lofty and understated; just two human beings singing their hearts out without a hint of pretence.

Touche Amore are now five albums into their career and whilst they may no longer be the scrappy hardcore band they started out as, they’ve never lost that sense of earnestness that made them so appealing in the first place. If anything, their willingness to adapt and grow their sound has made it easier for them to express the full range of emotions that make up the human experience. Whilst the overall tone of the record is quite a positive, hopeful one, the closing lyrics of “I’m still out in the rain, I could use a little shelter now and then” serve as a reminder that we all need help sometimes, regardless of our position in life, regardless of the side of the stage we’re standing on. As the world becomes increasingly divided and simply being alive becomes more and more complicated, that’s worth remembering.

LIAM KNOWLES

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