If the Los Angeles-based Touché Amoré is anything, it’s concise. Clocking in at just more than 20 minutes, the band’s sophomore album Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me makes every second of that runtime precious.
Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me sees the quintet producing some of the most refreshing screamo in recent memory by expertly integrating hardcore influence with heart-on-sleeve lyricism. Ed Rose’s production helps the group’s superb songwriting shine, making a clean recording that never feels slick. Rose’s production gives the band a natural feel, one of raw emotion and uncompromising intensity.
Guitarists Clayton Stevens and Nick Steinhardt utilize guitar tones that are uncharacteristically crisp for screamo. Many similar acts would switch between heavy distortion and soft clarity to create a disjointed nature, but Touché Amoré keeps the guitar tones bright throughout. In doing so, it hides the tonal shifts that lay ahead in each song, never giving indications of when a track may explode. It leaves room for drummer Elliot Babin and bassist Tyler Kirby to make an impact by diversifying their approaches in each song.
Parting the Sea not only displays Touché Amoré’s progressive songwriting, but it brings vocalist Jeremy Bolm to the forefront. Bolm’s performance on the band’s debut, …To the Beat of a Dead Horse, was rife with vulnerability; at times crossing into a territory similar to Jeff Eaton from Modern Life is War. On Parting the Sea, Bolm appears even more desperate because of his performance as well as his powerful lyricism.
“~” opens with album with a burst of energy and sees Bolm’s lyrical themes shifting inward, “If actions speak louder than words/I’m the most deafening noise you’ve heard.” As the album progresses, Bolm continues looking to himself for inspiration. While a good chunk of the band’s early work saw Bolm addressing outward concerns, Parting the Sea is improved by this personal connection.
The biggest risk the band takes comes late in the album. “Condolences” starts with an ominous piano intro before Bolm enters the fold. He holds nothing back as he screams, “If you fantasize about your funeral/I understand, I’ve been there before/If there’s more importance in the music played than who’d attend/We are the same.”
The track ratchets the tension and the aggressive explosion that is expected never comes. Instead, the track fades out, introducing “Home Away From Here,” a song with an extra dose of melody and a huge sing-along chorus. It’s the lone track to feature a traditional verse-chorus structure, but Touché Amoré never lessens their attack, creating an anthem out of chaos.
Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me is, from top to bottom, one of the most refreshing screamo records in recent memory. It takes the genre’s guidelines, twists them, and brings in new influences along the way. Instead of trying to rehash the successes of Orchid or Pg. 99, Touché Amoré is showing that screamo can evolve into something beautiful, just like it did more than a decade ago.
Touché Amoré – Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me Tracklist:
- “The Great Repetition”
- “Art Official”
- “Uppers / Downers”
- “Method Act”
- “Face Ghost”
- “Wants / Needs”
- “Home Away from Here”