On ‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’, Tigers Jaw finally reclaim the identity that they’ve been admittedly struggling with since the departure of three of their members in 2013.
For primary songwriter and founder, Adam McIlwee, to go solo as Wicca Phase Springs Eternal left quite a sonic void, while the remaining duo of Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins have done their utmost to continue the band’s legacy.
While 2017’s ‘Spin’ offered literally some of their best material to date, with Walsh handling the majority of the instrumentation and expanding Collins‘ presence from keyboardist to co-lead vocalist, there were still some very clear transitional pains. With an over reliance on Walsh‘s songwriting, their first post line-up shift project ultimately felt underwhelming without enough contrast provided by Collins who only led two to three cuts.
Thankfully, these issues have been ironed out on the creative rebirth that is ‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’, with the addition of two new full-time members to assist the band in digging their heels firmly into the emo-pop maelstrom they were initially integral in reviving.
The lush, despondent opening title-track sadly under-utilises the guest vocals from Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra, who had far more of a presence on Touché Amoré‘s ‘Limelight’ last year, but the predominantly acoustic number sets an uncertain tone for increasingly uncertain times.
Shifting the spotlight to encompass Collins in almost equal measure is a move that fans have been waiting on since ‘Hum’, the primary single from their masterwork ‘Charmer’, which served as her first foray into lead vocals.
Early singles like the neon pop-punk of ‘Cat’s Cradle’ and the hazy ‘Lemon Mouth’ feel simultaneously like a rejuvenation and a newfound self-discovery, with the band leaning firmly into their pop sensibilities. Elsewhere, the melancholic ‘Commit’ and subtle beauty of ‘Heaven Apart’, award Collins the opportunity to glow like the front woman she was always destined to become.
Walsh also continues to flourish as a songsmith; with less time to shine, the careful precision put into the retro-jangle of ‘Hesitation’ and the sullen airiness of ‘New Detroit’ highlight a reserved artistry, while the throwback ‘Can’t Wait Forever’ echoes an angst and untethered emotion largely absent since ‘Two Worlds’. Even the weaving organ-style keys conjure up a super dose of OG Tigers Jaw nostalgia.
With a more defined rhythm section and an introspective look inwards, the search for musical purpose that weighed down the anticipation of ‘Spin’ has paved the way for ‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’ to triumph where its predecessor fell short. Tigers Jaw haven’t sounded this sure of themselves in years, and it’s a very welcome return to form.
Lover of choons, flums, bukes and such. I like making music. I like writing about music. I like burgers and emo-trap. Also suffer from a slight case of knowitallism. I wish every song had a breakdown.