It’s hard to believe that Touché Amoré aren’t even ten years old yet. It seems like they have been around forever with their countless tours across the world, where they shared the stage with Converge, Every Time I Die, AFI, Rise Against and Architects, as well as many appearances at festivals including one at Coachella. They are also a regular feature in “best albums of the year” lists where Stage Four will no doubt appear.
Stage Four is not only the band’s fourth album, but the title eludes to the highest level of cancer staging, something that took the life of vocalist Jeremy Bolm‘s mother in 2014. To say Stage Four is an emotional album is an understatement, it’s therapy for the frontman. Stage Four contains heartfelt painful lyrics such as “I skip over songs, as they’re too hard to hear” (on ‘New Halloween’) and “The words they echo over and over, when you leaned in and said ‘We both know what this is,’ and I haven’t recovered since” (on ‘Water Damage’) which paint vivid landscapes of honesty and the fragility of humanity.
Bolm has stated in an interview that “I don’t open up to people too much in regular life, but when I’m writing songs, I want to be as open and as honest as possible,” and this album is very open. Bolm is a master with a pen, his lyrics show genuine emotion, reflection and regret. Reading comments online about how much his lyrics help people made me realise how gifted he really was. The words on this album will no doubt further act as a light in the darkness for those who need it.
The seventh song on the album ‘Palm Dreams’ is about how he never understood why his mother moved to California, imploring the listener to ask questions to their loved ones. Final song ‘Skyscraper’ (which features guest vocals from Julien Baker) is an atmospheric departure from the previous material, it’s a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece which features a heavy shoegaze sound reminiscent of Nothing. The song is my favourite on the album by far (closely followed by the controlled energy of ‘Flowers and You’) due to it sheer power. The chorus of ‘You live there, under the lights’ is tear-jerking and earth-moving.
‘Skyscraper’ ends on a voicemail, the last left for Bolm by his mother, ending the album on a chilling sense of gravity and heartbreak. Touché Amoré have always been a band who are willing to experiment and push their sound. The album builds on the melodic guitars featured on Is Survived By to create an album that is truly beautiful. Jeremy Bolm’s vocal performance is among the best of the year, while guitars on the album compliment the lyrics and work together well with the drums crashing in the background. The band’s fourth album is a tornado of emotion, melodic, sweeping guitars and straight up brilliance that has still left me reeling.
Reading many comments online, it seems that Stage Four has had a profound impact on the band’s fans and listening to the album makes it easy to see why. Stage Four is an emotional voyage that left me gobsmacked. It is an incredible achievement by a band who are definitely going to change the world.
Best Tracks: Flowers and You, The New Halloween, Palm Dreams and Skyscraper.
1. Flowers and You
2. New Halloween
6. Eight Seconds
7. Palm Dreams
8. Softer Spoken
9. Posing Holy
10. Water Damage
12. Gather (Bonus)
Touché Amoré are:
Jeremy Bolm – Vocals
Clayton Stevens – Guitar
Nick Steinhardt – Guitar
Elliot Babin – Drums
Tyler Kirby – Bass