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Album Review

Touche Amore – Stage Four


Their sound has moved on, but they’re still leading the way.

Label: Epitaph
Released: 16th September 2016

Rating: ★★★★

Touché Amoré have been at the front of a wave that for many has passed. It is fitting, then, that their sound has moved on, but they’re still leading the way. ‘Stage Four’ puts distance between the straight-up aggression of earlier records, and following on from 2013’s ‘Is Survived By’, adopts a more considered, reflective tone whilst losing none of the emotional intensity. The title references not only the band’s fourth album but the illness and passing of singer Jeremy Bolm’s mother in 2014, sitting at the forefront.

‘Flowers and You’ opens with a lush guitar tone before launching into familiar territory – an urgent and powerful scream of “I’m heartsick / and well-rehearsed”. In a live setting, it’s the one fans will be climbing over each other to scream back to the stage, pulling t-shirts away from chests. The basement hardcore band still exists, but with added depth. The heavier songs, such as ‘New Halloween’ and ‘Palm Dreams’ are interspersed with melody and intricacy. Vocals are sung as well as screamed, with ‘Displacement’ moving confidently across those elements, lyrically impactful in its exploration of grief.

“I know she’s looking out for me, the way she said she would.”

The closing track, ‘Skyscraper’, features the incredible Julien Baker joining on vocals. It’s ethereal but understated, the stripped-back, moody guitars and homage to New York City wouldn’t sound out of place on an Interpol record. The crashing screams at the end linger alongside the last voicemail message left to Bolm by his mother; highlighting the weight of loss, the significance in the everyday. It’s a difficult conclusion to any record but marks a poignant and lasting tribute. Kristy Diaz