Tigers Jaw – ‘Old Clothes’

By Sean Reid

Last year, Tigers Jaw released their sixth album, ‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’. It saw the Pennsylvania group return as a collaborative quartet, yet maintained the indie rock sound co-leaders Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins had established in recent releases. The slightly under-appreciated record was carried by a handful of effervescent songs that toed the line of mellowing maturity and breezy indie punk.

The quartet, completed by drummer Teddy Roberts and bassist Colin Gorman, have now returned with a four-track EP titled ‘Old Clothes’. Recorded during the ‘I Won’t How You…’ sessions with the always reliable producer, Will Yip, Walsh has stated the tracks on this EP “could be special on their own”.

It opens up with the title track which captures the emotive, upbeat style that will be familiar to longtime Tigers Jaw listeners. Gentle keys give way to steady muted guitars and Walsh’s lead vocals, lyrically honing in on the feeling of holding on to the present for as long as possible. With some “whoa’s” thrown in during the bridge, a strong chorus drives up the lyrical theme as Walsh closes with “I am not the one who is running away from you”.

‘Swear’ follows on at a similar tempo. Teddy Roberts’ accentuated drum work is a distinctive contribution, alongside Collins’ distant swirling organ keys and Walsh’s stirring-yet-brief guitar solo. Overall, it’s a catchy cut that highlights Tigers Jaw’s ability to write simple, emotive power-pop songs that easily come and go.

The penultimate track, ‘Reckless’, at first subtly rides on raw, sharp indie-punk guitars and Walsh’s upbeat melody, only to be countered by a slowed-down mid-section led by Collins’ ominous keys. Its gradual build to its conclusion allows the quartet’s musicianship to take the spotlight; twiddly guitars ring out while being supported by Gorman’s routine bass line and Roberts’ assuring drums.

The fourth and final track, ‘Waltz’, could easily be considered a throwaway or an interlude. As its title suggests, it breezes in with a stirring, mesmerising synth-led melody as Collins takes over the lead with light, distant vocals. Although she’s repeatedly shown her ability to smoothly and calmly step up in the past, Collins is drowned out by sustained, layered keys and a simple beat. Unfortunately, it ends this short outing on a flat note.

Much like the album from the same sessions that spawned these four songs, ’Old Clothes’ is an appreciative reminder of Tigers Jaw’s melodic strength. While it considerably lacks the emotional anchor that threaded ‘I Won’t Care How You…’ together, three of the four offerings here are rich in their tone and resonance.

It’s easy to see why Tigers Jaw saw these songs as a separate, collective set; honing in on a rawer sound, yet equally ‘Old Clothes’ can be viewed as a complementary EP. It will surely please fans and hold them over until album number seven. However, for anyone looking to be introduced to Tigers Jaw, this isn’t the ideal start.

SÊAN REID

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