Touché Amoré – Stage Four

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Sep 16, 2016.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from chorus.fm for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    In a year full of good music, it can be difficult to decide which records deserve your attention most. It seems as though every week has at least two releases worth dedicating precious listening time to. At that rate it can quickly become an overwhelming task to simply keep up. That’s why I find it necessary to tell you that if there is one must listen record this year: it’s the latest offering from Touché Amoré, titled Stage Four.

    The album’s title is a reference not only to the fact that it is the LA-based band’s fourth full-length offering, but also to the cancer that took away frontman Jeremy Bolm’s mother in late 2014. This loss becomes the lyrical focus of the album, with Bolm audibly going through the stages of grief across each song. Using the passing of your mother as the basis for your record is pressure enough, but taking into account that Stage Four is the follow-up to a widely loved album (2013’s …Is Survived By), and is also the band’s first release for Epitaph Records — an alternative/punk institution — and you have pressure which could paralyze a band. However, Touché Amoré has proved that they are anything but your average band. All of these factors created a perfect storm that has allowed the band to create their greatest work to date.

    Like their contemporaries in Pianos Become the Teeth, Touché have driven their sound into far more melodic territory. But instead of doing a 180, Stage Four retains much of the aggression prevalent on previous records. “Flowers and You” kicks off the album with reverberating guitars and hi-hat rhythms. As the kick drum, second guitar, and bass layer on top of each other the buildup sound leads to the introduction of Bolm’s heartbroken yelps. The song’s cathartic and aggressive vocals are familiar territory, even though the instrumental hints at the melody still to come. This melody arrives around the two-minute mark, and the “clean” vocals have a filter over them. The filter almost feels like a mask; a trial run for Bolm to get his feet under him before he commits to singing. As Jeremy sings on, the filter is removed and we hear his Matt Berninger-esque voice sing, “Just a simple conversation about nothing much at all. / Couldn’t keep me in the room / I just kept walking down the hall.”

    Lead single “Palm Dreams” has similar melodic sensibilities, with the refrain of “on my own,” building with harmony, cutting through what is otherwise a by-the-numbers Touché Amoré song. The second single, “Displacement” has some breakneck drumming from Elliot Babin alongside Bolm’s signature howl. The song is a perfect blend of the inherent heaviness of the band, coupled with the lush, natural production style of Brad Wood. The penultimate track, “Water Damage” builds to a crescendo of guitar chords and cymbal crashes worthy of being played alongside some of Deafheaven’s best work.

    Stage Four’s closer, “Skyscraper,” is the crowning achievement of the record; a reward for those that make their way through the entire album. Julien Baker’s feature consists of mostly harmony lines that weave in and out of Jeremy’s vocals, which switch between monotone singing and throat-shredding screams. The mid-tempo sonic assault just seems to keep building on itself, adding more instrumentation and vocal layers. This continues until the song fades out, but just before the last note stops ringing, a voicemail from Jeremy’s mother, a casual message about dropping off a prescription, fades in. In the context of the 10 songs preceding it, this is a heart-shattering memorial to a woman who was so clearly loved.

    Touché Amoré has earned the place they currently occupy in the music scene through hard work and sincerity. While the former is evident simply in the sound of the record, the latter is what really shines. As would be expected given the subject matter, this album is emotive beyond belief. Heavy themes often go hand-in-hand with heavy music, but it is a mark of this band’s true artistic talent that Stage Four is so thought provoking and gorgeous. This record forces its listeners to confront the mortality of not only themselves, but also those they love. This is emotive, artful, melodic hardcore — the kind that stays with you long after the final sounds of the voicemail end.

    At various points in our lives we are forced to face the inevitability of death. It’s dark and unsettling, and a topic most don’t want to think about, never mind confront directly. When we find ourselves in those situations, it’s comforting to know that this record exists, and can be used as a resource to help cope with the unhappy reality of our loved ones passing away. Stage Four stands as reassurance that even when we feel alone in our sadness, others go through the same circumstances.

     
  2. Aj LaGambina

    Hey man, we all can't be like you Supporter

    Special thanks to @Anna Acosta for doing some editing on this. I'm happy I get to write stuff again.
     
    Christian Romero likes this.
  3. jakeryandesigns

    Newbie

    Great review! As someone who has lost a parent at a young age, this album completely wrecks me. I'm on my fourth listen of this already today.
     
    CMilliken and Aj LaGambina like this.
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  5. redwing91007

    Next Show - Warped Tour 14/7/2018 Supporter

    Fantastic review. Just finished listening to the record as I read this and a lot of my thoughts are echoed in your review. Seems like a contender for my top 5 if not AOTY and it's only been out for 11 hours.
     
    Aj LaGambina likes this.
  6. sdnyjns

    I am not a robot

    Excellent review! Read it while listening through it for a third time, haha. This album is really touching and makes me appreciate the relationship I have with my parents so much more. TA really evolved their sound mixing elements from their previous three efforts culminating in this lush yet aggressive work of art. I really love the sincerity and candor of this record. I can honestly say I can feel Jeremy's pain and his coming to terms on this record.
     
  7. Anna Acosta

    Listen to Staircase Spirits. Moderator

    Happy to help, any time.
     
    Aj LaGambina likes this.
  8. coleslawed

    Eat Pizza

    solid review. I've gotta remember to go pick this up this weekend.
     
  9. Drew Beringer

    @drewberinger Moderator

    CMilliken likes this.
  10. redwing91007

    Next Show - Warped Tour 14/7/2018 Supporter

    Drew Beringer likes this.
  11. ConArdist

    Subgenres Should Die

    Well shit. Was on the other side of the fence from them at Riot Fest Denver, taking a smoke break so I never actually watched. Sounded good. Wait, if you hear a band does that mean you "went" to their set? lol
     
  12. CMilliken

    Regular

    Great review. I've had an uncle pass away due to cancer and my mom has battled some herself and came out on top. I can't say I didn't think some of the stuff the lyrics touch on as she was going through everything though.

    I got three songs in and knew this was going to be their best work. Such an amazing album that hits close to home.
     
  13. Hazelnutsack

    Irregular

    so gut wrenchingly sincere and heavy hitting emotionally, these guys can do no wrong but they're one of the few emo/ screamo bands that have one upped every previous album they've made and it's awesome to see them see so much success!
     
  14. untilitkills83

    Newbie

    not going to lie, after the first listen through of this album i felt heartbroken for the guy. It made me want to pick up the phone and call my mother. an album that truly does make you look at the mortality of yourself and those around you. In top 5 AOTY.
     
    Bartek T. likes this.
  15. sayitaintjoe

    Newbie

    Perfect review, perfect album. Knocked it out of the park.
     
  16. Zac Djamoos

    goodness, present and hallowed Prestigious

    Told you we'd agree, haha. This is probably the best review I've read by you too AJ, the last paragraph is really good especially
     
    Aj LaGambina and Dan O'Neill like this.
  17. Dan O'Neill

    Regular

    I didn't even know this was releasing soon. I know what I'm listening to on repeat for the rest of the night. :)
     
  18. Ryan Gardner

    @RyanGardnerC Moderator

    This album is devastating. Expansion on their sound in every way possible and easily their best record to date. My AOTY so far.
     
  19. Aj LaGambina

    Hey man, we all can't be like you Supporter

    Thanks, man. Still so weird to me that I write with people like you, @Drew Beringer @Anna Acosta @Aaron Mook, the whole staff really. I love you guys.

    Also thanks for all the kind words, everyone. Was worried about tackling this release as my first review in a while.
     
    Dan O'Neill, Tylar and Zac Djamoos like this.
  20. atlastitsok

    Newbie

    Quick question - if I loved skyscraper but haven't been able to get into much from them in the past what should I do? Based on the review should I just get headphones andsettle in to give it a shot?
     
  21. Aj LaGambina

    Hey man, we all can't be like you Supporter

    Absofreakinglutely
     
    coleslawed and Tylar like this.
  22. Tylar

    Newbie

    Just listen to it, it won't hurt you. Also, it's an incredible record
     
    y2jayjk and coleslawed like this.
  23. y2jayjk

    americandolphin Supporter

    i disagree
     
    Dan O'Neill, Zac Djamoos and Tylar like this.
  24. edquin

    Newbie

    I love Touche Amore, haven't listened to the full record yet because the subject matter hits so close to home but I'll take the time to do it today. Great review.
     
    Aj LaGambina likes this.
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  26. Tylar

    Newbie

  27. TheZeroKid

    I'm Not Holden Caulfield Prestigious

    Touché Amoré is the one band I simply cannot listen to while I'm feeling low. I'm glad I listened to this album in a good mood because it is INCREDIBLY emotionally exhausting. I called my mom immediately after listening to the record. I didn't know how they could possibly top the brutal honesty of Is Survived By but goddamn. Definitely in my Top 5 of the year.