ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2012 - TITLE FIGHT - FLORAL GREEN
2012 has been a great year, but not a particularly spectacular one for music. Either that or I’m getting old and starting to lose touch, but I’d like to think that’s not the case. The thing is, Title Fight’s second full length proper (third is you include ‘The Last Thing You Forget’) is in a way a fairly unremarkable album. It is not a landmark release which is going to change music or even the scene it comes from; chances are it will remain largely ignored outside of punk/emo circles for a while yet (but they’ll get there). What’s so god-damn pleasing about Floral Green however is how honest and mature it is for who are still a relatively young band.
In such a short time (i.e since 2009) this Kingston, Pennsylvania (that state again!) four-piece have come on leaps and bounds from a band with buckets of potential but still fairly generic to a point where they are now standing head and shoulders above their peers. There is a really fascinating 90 revivalist indie/emo scene happening in the US right now (and in particular, in and around Philadelphia) but with Floral Green, Title Fight have made a statement.
It felt for sometime that out of all the great bands around right now (and there is A LOT - Basement, Balance and Composure, Tigers Jaw, Joyce Manor, Everything Everywhere, Seahaven - to name a few) Title Fight were the ones who were going to make the leap of faith. On 2011’s fantastic Shed, they already started to break away from their pop-punk/hardcore leanings, with some stunning songs, including the title track and the absolutely heart-breaking stand-out 27. But that album still occasionally relied too heavily on old habits to be truly special in it’s own right. Not with Floral Green. Here we have 11 fully-formed bangers which don’t forget the band’s sound or alienate fans but manages to mature what they’ve created into something pretty special. Though not as emotionally draining, one is reminded of Brand New with the risks they took on The Devil and God are Still Raging Inside Me. This album isn’t quite that opus, but nor does it intend to be; that’s not Title Fight’s style.
Title Fight’s “Jesus Christ" moment came when the record’s first single was released this summer, the dreamy ‘Head in a Ceiling Fan’. It’s unlike anything Title Fight have released or written before, and yet it’s still recognisably them. Obvious comparisons to Deftones or more shoegazey acts such as My Bloody Valentine were thrown around, but these are not to be scoffed at, particularly from what are supposed to be a pop-punk influenced hardcore band. Though the rest of the album isn’t quite as distinctively odd as that, there is still an incredible amount of invention fit into it’s 32 (and a half) minutes.
Take ‘Sympathy’, an initially highly dissonant track for it’s off-rhythms and interweaving guitars, and yet it builds to become one of the biggest hooks of the whole album, and never loses its infectious melody or passionate energy. Then it closes with an alternating 5/4, 4/4 middle 8, so subtle it’s actually quite easy to miss it’s intricacy. That is an incredible talent for a band to weave in an odd-time signature as that and still pull off it’s aural pleasure without distorting it, a risk most bands wouldn’t take.
And then right after, there’s ‘Frown’, easily the most simple power-pop punk anthem of the album, switching without any sort of disruption to the band’s by now well established flow. ‘Frown’ somehow manages to be an incredible fulfilling song considering how it teeters on the edge of cheesiness, but it gets dragged back down to reality thanks to all the tactics the band employ to make this record great.
So hey, it may not be Fucked Up or Titus Andronicus or even Converge but what Title Fight have created ought to be celebrated, and should be in years to come. They are a band who have remained on an upward trajectory ever since they first emerged, and what it perhaps most promising is that even Floral Green isn’t perfect (though it’s damn close), meaning there is still further room to grow. I for one am very excited to see what this band come up with next.