‘Lament’ feels like a bittersweet victory lap for California-based band Touché Amoré. It manages to easily match the highs of their 2016 release ‘Stage Four’ – an emotional tour-de-force best described as a prolonged howl of mourning. Written in response to the death of frontman Jeremy Bolm’s mother, its influence is still felt strongly on their latest release.
‘Lament’ is a poignant exploration of coping with death and clutching on to hope in the face of futility. It’s a progression beyond the outright grief of its predecessor, with more to say about the uphill battle of healing from profound loss – a process of constant ebbs and flows.
Even the first minutes of the album are steeped in uncharacteristic joy, with Come Heroine being a hard-hitting tribute to an unnamed individual who “reversed the atrophy” for Bolm. There is a raw sincerity to his vocals – every scream he lets out is tinged with desperation and barely restrained anguish.
There’s a significantly different sound to be found on some tracks, with A Broadcast being a particularly strong example. Strained and weary vocals are exacerbated by a tranquil instrumental arrangement – its careful layering makes it sound closer to dream-pop than emo. Savoring’s thumping drum fills and jagged riffs are a fitting accompaniment to a blunt commentary on the difficulty of moving on. The simultaneous blessing and curse of memory is lamented – “Sometimes the slightest thing will split my head in half”.
Bolm’s lyricism shows a fundamental tendency to view himself as nothing but a problem, a human puzzle that’s missing a crucial piece. “You make me resolvable” calls back to the album’s opener, another reference to the one that possesses the unique ability to unravel him.
The closer, A Forecast, is another outlier when it comes to matching their traditional sound. It’s the band at their most gentle, beginning with tender, stripped-back piano instrumentation. Bolm reflects on his own progress while dryly admonishing those who left him to struggle on his own in a spoken-word style.
His sense of sheer disappointment lends impact to simplistic lines – “The people I thought would reach out/Turns out they would not”. The relative calm is shattered midway through as a rising arpeggio cuts through the mix, immediately causing Bolm’s facade to slip and return to screamed vocals in the track’s final minutes.
‘Lament’ is undoubtedly one of the band’s most artistically cohesive releases. Bolm’s heart-rending performance is only one aspect of what makes it such a powerful listen – the guitar work is consistently excellent with an impressive ability to switch up styles, whether it’s with the punchy, surprisingly pop-punk Reminders or the snarling auditory assault of Exit Row. It stands tall with the rest of their output, carving out a space as one of their best albums yet.