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ATP! Album Review: Touché Amoré – Is Survived By

Savor that first chord. Anchor yourself to it, because that chord is the optimistic true north of this whole album. In the next half an hour you are going to be deconstructed, examined and laid bare, with no promise that you will be repaired by the end. So hold onto that chord for dear life, it is to be your brightness at the end of the tunnel.

Everyone will tell you not to bottle up your problems. A private battle will metastasize the longer you hide away. Worries are cancerous when unspoken. It can feel like you’re the only person in the world that could possibly feel the way that you do and only by speaking out can you realize that that is not the case.

This form of shared, collective catharsis is the modus operandi of Is Survived By. “I was once asked how I’d like to be remembered/And I simply smiled and said I’d rather stay forever” are the opening lyrics as ‘Just Exist’ leads a rumination on legacy and what we leave behind once we’re gone. Jeremy Bolm means when you die, sure, but as with the majority of Touché lyrics they’re open to interpretation. The effect we have on others and how we can affect this is a constant concern and with opening with ‘Just Exist,’ Is Survived By sets a precedent for the thoughtfulness here.

‘To Write Content’ continues in the same vein - fast-paced and driven. Touché represent the punkier end of modern post-hardcore and the majority of tracks on Is Survived By follow suit, guitars and drums threatening to fall over themselves in an earnest bid to be heard. Bolm’s voice adds to the tumult, constant between shout and scream and raggedly consistent.

There are moments of fragility throughout though. ‘Praise / Love’ features Bolm screaming over a single guitar refrain; ‘Blue Angels’ ends with Bolm backed by Julia Blake’s softly-sung backing vocals as he delivers “I feel relief in just watching you breathe / it’s hypnotizing like an inner peace.”

But where Touché Amoré have really outclassed themselves is in the final three tracks. ‘Nonfiction’ begins somberly, the lyrics spoken in the background only to burst forth in the final third as the track builds to a rewarding crescendo. ‘Steps’ continues the positive transition (“I’ll find my way and follow though / and maybe there I’ll meet you”) over metallic guitars before ‘Is Survived By’ does its best to answer the questions from ‘Just Exist.’ “This is survived by a love / this is survived by a cause / that you aren’t the only one who remembers what it was.” This is Touché Amoré’s own paean to their art form: the song is the reason for writing. There is a point to bearing your soul after all. The sense is in the sharing.

Is Survived By is an exciting record, agonizing and painful but ultimately redemptive. For the most part it is a direct, high-tempo post-hardcore album, set apart by its dynamism and lyrical excellence. We are all affected by these subjects. The genius is that Bolm does not seek to provide answers to his struggles, just to include us in them that we might find something in there that helps with ours.


James Tremain

Is Survived By is out on September 24th via Deathwish Inc.

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