Whether or not to your taste, it would be tough to challenge Californian post-hardcore quintet Touché Amoré’s distinctive talent and emotive storytelling ability. Over time, they’ve moved from more aggressive but less intricate hardcore punk beginnings to a more deliberate, evocative blend of rousing melodic fretwork, crafty song structures, impassioned raspy screams and occasionally cleaner or spoken-word vocal sections.
2016’s Stage Four, which laid bare frontman Jeremy Bolm’s struggle to cope with the loss of his mother to cancer, was more vulnerable and less heavy than previous efforts but particularly powerful as a result. Lament has much in common with that but, although the lyrics are still raw, the music has evolved to sound more hopeful and even triumphant at times. So while Lament is unmistakably Touché Amoré, the bubbling melodies and diverse musical influences make it more accessible than before and there is barely a weak track to be found.
The urgent yells and builds of Limelight, featuring Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull, grow more convincing with each listen. The title track vocals are especially poignant, A Broadcast features surprisingly effective folk influences, and I’ll Be Your Host delivers a bittersweet unison of resigned lyrics and dancing fretwork. Final track A Forecast begins with an intimate, unpolished outpouring from Jeremy and his piano and closes with a pool of melodies and raw, heartfelt yells, offering a heady mix of uncomfortable and cathartic.
All 11 tracks have something to say while still resulting in a cohesive and memorable whole and Ross Robinson’s production provides a rich, clean translation of the band’s unique, atmospheric style while also firmly safeguarding their rugged spirit. Yet again, Touché Amoré have proven that they can flex their wings while remaining true to themselves.