When California’s Touché Amoré released 2011’s “Parting the Seas Between Brightness and Me,” I thought that they had reached the peak of their career. And after hearing
the three split EPs put out since “Parting the Seas Between Brightness and Me,” that thought was solidified. It isn’t that the songs featured on those splits are bad, it’s just that nothing compares to “Parting the Seas Between Brightness and Me.” It’s been over two whole years since it’s release, and it still remains to be an album I listen to several times a week. However, as of September 17, I am going to retract my statement that Touché Amoré had reached their peak.
Due to the leak of the album and hype surrounding it, Touché Amoré unveiled their masterpiece and follow up to “Parting the Seas Between Brightness and Me” titled “Is Survived” By via stream on pitchfork.com a week before it’s release date of September 24th, and it is ridiculously good. However, there a few differences between “Parting the Seas Between Brightness and Me” and “Is Survived By.” First off – singer and lyricist Jeremy Bolm seems not to be swallowed by a fit of depression. Secondly – only one song on “Parting the Seas Between Brightness and Me” exceeded the two minute mark, where as only three are under that on the new record. These extra minutes previously not found on Touché Amoré’s songs have given the band much more room to explore the songs and soundscapes that they create. This works well for the band, as the added length gives room for repeated melodies enabling the intertwined phrases to get stuck in your head.
The album starts out inspiringly, indicating that tides have changed in Jeremy Bolm’s life. In the opener “Just Exist,” drums pound urgently, and guitars sweep in from both ears before Jeremy’s familiar cry resonates “I was once asked/How I’d like to be remembered/And I simply smiled and said “I’d rather stay forever.” It seems Bolm’s free time has been spent contemplating the legacy his band will leave, rather than loneliness and darkness as previously portrayed. This is reflected in the instrumentals as well and showcased at the end of “Blue Angel.” Here, harmony is added to the melodies in the form of a chorus singing “I feel relief in just watching you breathe/It’s hypnotizing like an inner peace/I get fixated on your deepest breaths/waiting for the angels to take their effect.” My favorite song though is without a doubt “Non Fiction.” The songs starts with a slow, but uplifting guitar riff, driven dramatically by drummer Elliot Babin. This riff is built upon by the band, and slightly altered as the melodies build up into a crescendo around the two minute mark, where the vocals enter the piece and the song transforms into a reminder of the inevitable passing of time.
The presence of exploration through songs like “Non Fiction” is the reason “Is Survived By” is perfect for both those familiar and unfamiliar to Touché Amoré’s catalogue. The songs are still pure Touché Amoré, full of fantastic dynamic changes, meaningful lyrics, and are largely fast paced. But “Is Survived By” takes it a step further, and feels more thought out, mature, and inspiring. The songs, while slightly less heavy, settle better upon first listen and create more elaborate soundscapes than previous efforts show. Touché Amoré have outdone themselves with this release, and yet again raised the bar of the once underground emotional post-hardcore genre.