A horrible hack

Touche Amore

Is Survived By

Year Released: 2013
Format: LP
Label: Deathwish
 
Reviewed by Andrew Revis on Nov 8, 2013
Touche Amore's last album, 2011's Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me, was something of a watershed moment for hardcore music, a record still spoken of in hushed tones, a stone-cold five-star classic, a close-to-flawless bolt seemingly from nowhere. It's a record which couldn't help but define the band - in fact not just the band, but an entire scene. It's up there with The Shape Of Punk To Come and Relationship Of Command and Jane Doe, in its own way as important as Repeater and Damaged and Zen Arcade. It was, in short, the encapsulation of where hardcore music is at right now. It really is that good.

So does the follow-up come close to its predecessor? Well, yes and no. But mainly no.

You have to feel a bit of sympathy for the band: they set themselves an insurmountable task, and as great as this follow-up is, the echoes of every single 'yeah but it's no Parting The Sea...' can just about be heard beneath each and every one of Jeremy Bolm's dense, splenetic lyrics. But it's difficult to see where they could have given much more than they have on Is Survived By. This really is a fantastic collection of songs, there's not a single duff moment here.

The band's sincerity and desire is unquestionable, and they remain far more inventive than the vast majority of hardcore music out there at the moment. On To Write Content Bolm yelps, 'I can't say I haven't aged, I've outgrown what I used to be. I won't fake what is expected, to succeed with album three.' They know their task is impossible but still they try admirably.

Parting The Sea... was 13 tracks and 21 minutes long. This one certainly isn't self-indulgent either - 12 tracks in a little under half an hour this time. And it's far from sluggish - Kerosene, Blue Angels and Steps all gallop along at a giddy pace. What it is lacking though is its predecessor's variety in pace and tempo, and those anthemic, arms aloft moments that peppered that release: 'I'm not the golden boy so don't shine me on!' on Art Official, 'To look up to me is to look down on everything!' on Uppers/Downers, 'All dressed up in black and grey, we know each other just the same...!' on Face Ghost, 'Give me a reason not to just start screaming out loud!' on Wants/Needs. What Parting The Sea... also had, of course, was the sensational Home Away From Here, an explosive whirlwind equal parts driving melody and self-flagellation, a manifesto for the modern touring punk band (one of a certain delicate disposition anyway) in two minutes flat: 'Though I can't afford to eat, as much as I would like to be, and my bills won't pay themselves, so I'll come up with another scheme...NO TIES, NO ROOTS, I'M FINE!'

So in inevitable comparison maybe Is Survived By does feel marginally underwhelming, but that's as much as anything down to that priceless element of surprise that was theirs on Parting The Sea... but never again. To expect a band to break boundaries twice over is unrealistic and unfair. This is an excellent, supremely accomplished record in its own right. As Bolm screams on the wonderful Anyone/Anything, 'I don't owe anyone, I don't owe anything, so stop expecting everything from me.' You're right, Jeremy, we're sorry.

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