By Jonah Krueger, News Editor
Key tracks: “Come Heroine”, “Reminders”, “Limelight”, “Deflector”
Touché Amoré has rightly become an emo A-lister, managing to vary its approach to songwriting while remaining remarkably consistent in quality with each release. Yet, the glamorous rise of the band was abruptly halted with the release of their fourth album.
Frontman Jeremy Bolm experienced a tragedy only understandable to those who have gone through it themselves—losing a family member to cancer. Following Bolm’s mother’s passing was 2016’s utterly heartbreaking Stage Four, an album in which Bolm processed his loss in real-time, leading to the group’s most uncut portrayal of emotional turmoil to date.
Now, with the group’s latest effort, Lament, Touché Amoré take advantage of the passage of time. Much like Mount Eerie’s Now Only, which also follows an album focused on the real-life loss of a loved one to cancer, the scope is wider and the perspective is more contemplative. Dynamic and Ross Robinson-produced emo songs are used to explore the process of healing and what it means, as well as the effects of putting one’s mourning up for an entire fanbase to see.
The record’s opening moments hold no punches in setting the tone for the album. Bolm starts with a distant scream before blistering, furious guitars rush in to match his intensity. It’s a tune focused on vulnerability and the power it holds: “When I swore I’d seen everything / I saw you”. Similar ideas bleed into the titular track, which features intense performances and introduces the motif of unstable, synth-based soundscapes.
“Feign” starts in a deceptively calm manner before giving way to a double time chorus. The synth-based motif is called upon once again, this time accentuated with a bass line that would fit nicely on The Cure’s Disintegration and a refrain dealing with the idea of healing through self-deception.
“Reminders” and “Limelight”, two of the album’s singles, are the easiest to link to the sound of Stage Four. The former is one of the poppier tracks, with perhaps the catchiest hook the project has to offer. The latter derives its power from its linear structure and the juxtaposition of Andy Hall’s (Manchester Orchestra) vocals and Bolm’s impassioned screams.
Lament then amps up the aggression with “Exit Row” and “Savoring”, two of the most ferocious tracks on the album, and perhaps the closest the band comes to getting back in touch with their Orchid-inspired past. Both deal with Bolm clawing his way out of suffering, either through sheer will (“Suffering has no purpose”) or through loving relationships (“You make me resolvable / When upside down or impossible”).
After the reverb-drenched, steel guitar-infused soundscape of “A Broadcast”, “I’ll Be Your Host” kicks off the final leg of the record. The song faces the themes of the album head on, casting Bolm as the unwitting de facto leader of those who have undergone similar tragedies in their lives.
“I wasn’t and still am not prepared for the conversations I would end up having, day after day,” Bolm told Revolver magazine. “My heart brakes for people on a damn near daily basis.”
These ideas become increasingly direct as the album comes to a close. Bolm explores self-sabotage and remaining uncomfortable in his aforementioned role on “Deflector”, a multi-phased barn burner with the band’s most cathartic chorus since “Flowers and You”.
On the closer, an unexpected piano-ballad-turned-defiant-screamed-refrain, Bolm breaks right through the fourth wall to call out those who failed to reach out on the anniversary of his mother’s death.
After all, “it’s not like [he] wrote some lyrics detailing the exact events.” The album leaves off with Bolm’s final declaration that one can’t fully heal after such an event – that he’s not strong enough to bear the weight of others’ hardest moments on top of his own.
This sentiment – that life-altering events stay with you and that that’s okay and normal – is at the heart of the Lament. Those looking for something to scream along to will find comfort in Lament. Fans looking for the next chapter of Bolm’s mental health will find an honest update. And loved ones, who may have completed the grieving process, but still feel a tinge of pain when memories resurface, may find brief, fleeting, shelter from the rain.