Tigers Jaw — spin (May 19, 2017)
•→• Pennsylvania~based group whose music has grown from pop~punk to emo to indie rock, all with personal and incisive lyrics.
•→• With lyrics that are easily relatable and digestible, Spin will pull you in and win you over before you know it. Two, three, and four listens will pass without your even noticing. Armed with the catchiness of the most saccharine pop song, the album cements the idea in my mind that Tigers Jaw is the artistic embodiment of that one friend you have who’s going through some tough times, but you wish with all your heart that they succeed. Don’t call it a magnum opus, but don’t be surprised if Spin sits highly on more than a couple best of 2017 lists.
Formed: 2005 in Scranton, PA
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Album release: May 19, 2017
Record Label: Black Cement Records / Atlantic
01 Follows 3:47
02 Favorite 2:04
03 June 3:24
04 Escape Plan 3:53
05 Blurry Vision 3:30
06 Guardian 4:12
07 Bullet 3:36
08 Brass Ring 3:13
09 Oh Time 2:51
10 Same Stone 3:37
11 Make It Up 3:57
12 Window 4:05
• Ben Walsh — guitars, vocals (2006~present), drums (2005~2007, 2016~present), bass (2016~present)
• Brianna Collins — keyboards, vocals (2006~present)
• Belongs to the Dead (2006)
• Tigers Jaw (2008)
• Two Worlds (2010)
• Charmer (2014) U.S. number #49
• spin (2017)
by Ian Cohen, MAY 18 2017 / Score: 7.2
•→• The new album from Tigers Jaw is their major label debut, but it’s also the debut of a major label, as the first release on producer Will Yip’s new Atlantic imprint Black Cement.
•→• Few emo hot takes pack more heat than “In Reverie is the best Saves the Day album.” Following the band’s evergreen classics Through Being Cool and Stay What You Are, and preceding an ongoing back~to~basics course correction, it’s a complete outlier — the sole album Saves the Day released on the major label DreamWorks, shifting from Lifetime worship into midtempo, floral power~pop and intricate jazzy chords. It was an album that alienated old fans and failed to gain new ones in equal measure. Tigers Jaw’s Ben Walsh recently called In Reverie his favorite album of all time. That’s a hell of a hot take and seemingly a statement in light of spin, which is not just Tigers Jaw’s major label debut, but the debut of a major label.
•→• As the inaugural release of producer Will Yip’s Atlantic imprint Black Cement, spin might be seen as a trial balloon for the commercial viability of revival~era emo and a purity test for those who’ve been around before “the emo revival” had a name. Though, if there are Tigers Jaw purists, they would’ve jumped ship three years ago. 2014’s Charmer was transitional, with 60% of the band’s original lineup deciding to amicably bow out, perhaps to follow the muse of witch house, but only after they finished recording. Described by the band as “equal parts Fleetwood Mac and Brand New,” Charmer was certainly more polished and subdued than their giddy, pop~punkish self~titled debut and landed in Billboard’s top 50, standing alongside Turnover’s Peripheral Vision, Title Fight’s Hyperview, and Balance and Composure’s The Things We Think We’re Missing as proof of Will Yip’s credentials as a producer and A&R in terms of visualizing the new sound of alternative rock.
•→• Charmer sounded like a bold reconfiguration, but compared to spin, it was a dry run. The perspective and songwriting of Brianna Collins and Walsh have matured; at the very least, the band now has a clearer idea of what Tigers Jaw 2.0 is meant to accomplish. spin is 12 confident, minor variations on the Tigers Jaw style that withstood the past three years — the jangle of old indie rock, the stylization of new indie rock, and the simultaneously introspective and community~minded concerns of the fourth-wave emo bands for whom they’re something of an authority figure.
•→• The stereo~panned acoustics that introduce “Escape Plan” are not the first time Tigers Jaw have overtly referenced the Microphones, though it blooms into an expansive crescendo that shows how Bleed American and The Glow Pt. 2 have comfortably coexisted as primary 2001 influences in this scene. With its unusually steady vocals, “Blurry Vision” is the most beautiful exchange between Collins and Walsh, reflective of the more wistful, empathetic tone of spin.
•→• While many of their peers are reasserting the grungier and brattier variants of the Buzz Bin, Tigers Jaw remain above the fray but true to their roots. The shoulder~swinging rhythmic drive of their earliest days is maintained regardless of Yip’s even~handed production, as “Bullet,” “Brass Ring,” and “Guardian” hit cruise control at 75 mph. And for all of the balance and composure shown throughout spin, Collins sounds fully aware that she’s written Tigers Jaw’s best melody for the chorus of “June,” barely concealing her enthusiasm to get through the verses so she can dive right into it.
•→• The exuberance of “June” almost qualifies as experimental within the new iteration of Tigers Jaw and especially spin. As with Charmer, most of the highlights come early, leaving spin to feel just as front~loaded, albeit with a longer and stronger front. Stuck towards the end, “Window” or “Same Stone” come off as vaguely redundant. Still, in light of Walsh’s statements on In Reverie, Tigers Jaw might not be interested in the same grandiose ambitions of some of their peers. As with Saves the Day, Tigers Jaw is a band rooted in pop~punk and emo trying to evolve alongside their fans in a logical way. And by staying the course after their risky pivot rather than retrenching, they’ve done their heroes one better.
Review by Wayne H. | May 19th, 2017 | Score: 4.5
By Scott Heisel | May 15, 2017 | 9:15am | Score: 6.1