Lament, the eagerly-awaited fourth full-length release from California screamo outfit Touché Amoré, arrives four years after the release of Stage Four and from the outset it appears that the band are back with a vengeance. Frontman Jeremy Bolm’s vocals, backed by a powerful rhythm section, are pushed to the fore on opening track ‘Come Heroine’. The high-fidelity production and impeccable arrangement provide ample space for Bolm’s poetic musings to cut right to the core of the listener:
“With open arms you brought down the walls I defend / And I’m just a risk / A colossal near miss / Prone to resist what is best for me”
Further on, Touché Amoré vary their sound, incorporating softer, more melodic elements while retaining their spiky, post-hardcore foundation. The results vary, however. Harsher elements of the band’s signature sound drown out the bright, reverb soaked guitars that perforate the album’s title track, leaving Bolm’s vocals to carry the song on their own merit.
‘Broadcast’, in contrast, features obtrusive steel guitars toward the song’s second half, offering little to complement the band’s style. A guest spot from Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull slots awkwardly into the latter moments of ‘Limelight’, Bolm’s carnal cries overpowering Hull’s soaring lead vocals, defeating their own purpose, and undoing the song’s considered narrative about love’s temporal nature.
Lament does offer some killer hooks. ‘Reminders’ has a massive gang vocal chorus, a legitimately hopeful moment amidst all the darkness. Elsewhere, ‘I’ll Be Your Host’ is catchy in spite of its acutely distressing lyrical content:
“Pin a black ribbon on, we’re the mourning campaign / I didn’t ask to lead this party, I explain”
‘Feign’, another album highlight, features gorgeous twin lead guitar interplay against arresting drum fills and spectacular descending chords, topped with Bolm’s confessional lyrics as he examines his own impostor syndrome in confronting his elder statesman status within the underground rock community. ‘Savouring’ sees Touché Amoré strike the perfect balance between melody and cacophony, buoyed by a superhuman performance from drummer Elliot Babin.
Themes of inadequacy and doubt are dealt with intensely, especially on ‘Deflector’, but the track is let down by unimaginative guitar work and a hackneyed spoken-word middle eight. ‘Forecast’ opens as a sparse piano ballad, building to a melodic hardcore breakdown but its effortfully raw, unpolished opening sets the track up to fail. Lyrically, the song also fails to provide any sense of closure to such a thematically strident album.
All in all, Lament has a lot to offer but for all its great moments, stylistic variety and dynamic song arrangements, there are as many instrumental missteps, and songwriting that borders on cliché.