Touche Amore – ‘Stage Four’

By Ben Tipple

Without reservation, ‘Displacement’ lays ‘Stage Four’’s cards out on the table. “You died at 69, with a body full of cancer,” Touche Amore’s Jeremy Bolm reveals, going on to simultaneously celebrate and commiserate the passing of his mother; the catalyst behind their fourth full-length release. The theme runs throughout the record’s eleven tracks, their most refined and beautiful to date.

Bolm carries with him a remarkable sensitivity. An unparalleled relatability. His openness is commendable, choosing to express emotions bluntly rather than bury them under trite metaphor or imagery. Through his lyrics, Bolm depicts a complimentary balance of grief and remembrance. It’s heightened by the accompanying music, which captures the beauty and anguish – a representation of painfully confused emotions.

In its relatively short running time, ‘Stage Four’ travels through various stages of grief. It acknowledges the sheer destructive nature of loss; the painfully inevitable self-questioning, and the subsequent feelings of helplessness. Yet it simultaneously discusses notions of hope, and of tenderness. On many occasion Bolm speaks of the consistently re-occurring memories, and their immeasurable importance. Painful as they might be, they are above all filled with love. Through this, Touché Amoré offer reassurance and understanding.

Bolm’s tones, as well as his lyrics, suggest a cathartic absolution. ‘Skyscraper’, one of a handful of tracks that see Touche Amore experiment with significantly different sounds, presents an emotional outpouring. Joined by Julien Baker, they repeat: “You live there, under the lights,” a multifaceted reflection of life and death. It’s indicative of the remainder of the record, journeying through health, sickness and death, all in the same breath. ‘Stage Four’ closes with Bolm’s mother’s message, informing him that she may not be there when he gets home. As with much of the record, it’s as hopeful as it is painful; hopeful not for her, but for her son’s continued success. It’s representative of Bolm’s internal battle between staying at home and living his dream, both stunningly reflected on the record.

Musically, ‘Stage Four’ is one of the most brilliantly creative records in recent years. When taking into account its unfortunately all-too-common subject matter, Touche Amore have provided an important recognition of grief; one that not only understands and represents, but encourages and supports the very difficult harmony between love and loss.

BEN TIPPLE

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