Touché Amoré hits home with ‘Stage Four’

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 at 10:12 PM
Touché Amoré hits home with ‘Stage Four’ by Britton Rozzelle

Emo is a loaded, yet nebulous tag that, when applied, to any album in 2016 immediately conjures thoughts of people going to the local mall-based Hot Topic in seventh-grade to scope out those new zebra- striped hair extensions and Invader Zim merch. Lots of it.

“Stage Four” by Touché Amoré is, undoubtedly, an emo album and one that would feel entirely at home with any of those listed bands and their work at the time.

Arguably the band’s biggest album to date, “Stage Four” is a collection of similar, homey-feeling tracks full of emotional distance and recovering from terrible events in somewhat healthy ways.

The album starts off with the refined guitar work of “Flowers and You,” that almost immediately ramps up into a tortured string of lyrics that hit all the old-school emo check boxes, including apologizing for one’s existence, apologizing for not being able to help a loved one and just generally not being okay. That being said, it’s a fun song, made unique by the interesting and upbeat drumline and dreamy bass.

“New Halloween” sounds like a fitting song on the band’s last album, which isn’t a bad thing. Everything but the vocals of this song stick with me as being strong. The hoarse shout of vocalist Jeremy Bolm sounds discordant amongst the clearly developed work of his band mates since 2013’s “Is Survived By.” “Rapture,” however similar lyrically, is a fun song that manages to capture what’s so great about the emo scene and sub genre by mixing (usually) talented instrumentals and storytelling, marking one of my standout tracks.

“Displacement” continues with more of the same, but “Benediction” switches it up; with Bolm changing his vocals from muted shouting to something more melodic and classic-sounding, while guitars squeal behind him during the powerful chorus. “Eight Seconds” is another solid track, and while it’s only a minute-and-a-half long, it manages to capture a lot of emotions, and showcase a harder side of the band. Meanwhile, “Palm Dreams,” the first single release for the album, still remains one of the most radio-play worthy songs on the album.

“Softer Spoken” works well in a similar way to “Eight Seconds,” and serves as a good transition into “Posing Holy,” picking up on many of the same motifs as the rest of the songs lyrically, referring to loss as a “right of passage” for life. “Water Damage” channels almost Incan Abraham or The Cure-styled guitar work, with Bolm shifting the vocals again for a more modulated, syncopated delivery that meshes well with the dark and heavy bass present.

“Stage Four” rounds out with “Skyscraper,” and while I was disappointed it wasn’t a cover of the Demi Lovato song, it strongly channels the style of Cymbals Eat Guitars for a rhythmic and dark song that perfectly rounds out the experience.

Ultimately, “Stage Four” is a shockingly solid album from Touché Amoré, and potentially an instant classic for the genre as it manages, quite effectively, to balance old and new in a fun, dark and emotional ride.

Standout tracks: “Rapture,” “Water Damage,” “Skyscraper” 

Britton Rozelle is the Executive Editor for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

Tags: music, review

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