Title Fight: Hyperview
Vivascene rating 3.5 out of 5 stars
Hyperview, the new album from Pennsylvania-punks Title Fight, feels seamless and familiar, yet attempts to forge something new. The band’s bassist/vocalist Ned Russin has said of the album:
“We were looking at bands like maybe Dinosaur Jr. and the Beach Boys — we were looking at the moment where they found something that had never been done before and was now being done well. We were just chasing that energy.”
While Title Fight’s first two LPs were a traditional romp of hardcore punk and emo, Hyperview tones things down while revving up the band’s artistic cred. The flanger guitar effects on opening track “Murder Your Memory” demonstrate the band’s fondness for shoegaze, and the flange doesn’t let up there: the whole album is an exercise that pits the moody atmosphere of shoegaze against the harshness of punk rock.
The album is nicely sequenced with tracks that blend into one another, the mood always somewhere in-between a roar and a calming whimper. There is something charming about the band’s raucous shoegaze riffs that echo classic acts such as Ride as well as the dream pop of contemporary bands like Beach House. Some longtime fans may scowl at Title Fight’s transformation from Warp Tour mainstays to a classic indie rock act, but on Hyperview, if you listen closely, the band never fully sheds their punk rock creds.
Audition the entire album here:
Father John Misty I love you, Honeybear
Vivascene rating 3.5 out of 5 stars
When J. Tillman performed “Bored in the USA” on Letterman in November, it took the music world by storm. Tillman’s performance mixed the cynical with the sincere, the melodramatic with the “real”, and his lyrics benefited by feeling both timely and important. Tillman, adorning a sharp suit and heavy beard, sprawled himself theatrically across his grand piano and belted ideas that connected with a disillusioned America. “Oh, they gave me a useless education/And a subprime loan/On a craftsman home” he sang, much to the crowd’s amusement, before a rush of release prompts the titular lyric: “But I can kind of deal/Oh, with being bored in the USA/Oh, just a little bored in the USA”.
I Love you, Honeybear, the second studio album from Father John Misty, Tillman’s performing alter-ego, arrives with the hype that a Zeitgeist song like “Bored” should inevitably produce. Lyrically Honeybear is as poignant as “Bored in the USA” would suggest, the album a hodgepodge of tender verses that can suddenly turn snarky or disillusioned.
A lot of the album’s epic charm is inspired by the act of falling in love and getting married – an act that Tillman has experienced in-between the release of Honeybear and debut Fear Fun. In the album’s last line Tillman repeats the first thing he ever said to his future-wife: “Seen you around, what’s your name?” And the lyric’s sheer earnestness is a fitting conclusion for an album that is mostly sarcastic, angry, and, sometimes, passionate. Musically, though, Honeybear can at times run a little thin. It’s true that the album is melodically ambitious, but Tillman’s overreliance on indie folk tropes is tiresome. The double-tracking on Tillman’s vocals for many of the songs is unpleasant, and it’s only when we get an unencumbered recording of his voice, such as on “Bored”, that his vocal talents really shine. “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me” has some great guitar lines that add some much needed soul; and “True Affection” has an infectious ‘80s-vibe going for it, but for the most part these songs could have used more variety.
Ultimately I Love You, Honeybear is a grower: the divide between Tillman’s sincerity and Father John Misty’s cynicism needs time to unfurl, and only repeated listens will reveal his true nature. Honeybear is often a rich and complex experience in this sense, but the lack of musical variety might make you feel like you’re missing something.