Preconceived notions are a big part of music fandom, especially when it comes to criticism. If you didn’t like a song by a band, why listen to more songs? If you loved a band’s last album, you’re probably going to check out the next one. Some people might have been scared away by the categorization of Kingston, Pennsylvania band Title Fight as a melodic hardcore punk band. The preconceived notion created by the word “hardcore” often causes many potential fans to fade away from giving the band a shot because the image it creates is usually of large men barking angry lyrics at their face. Yes, Title Fight’s first two releases had some of these aspects, putting them on the map as an aggressive, fast, in-your-face punk band. However, with their third full-length effort Hyperview, the band embodies a new face, a new approach, displaying the best parts of sonic evolution.
As soon as the first notes are struck on opening track Murder Your Memory, it becomes clear that Title Fight wants you to do just that, taking any preconceived notions you might have had about the new record and throwing them away. The track sees guitarist Jamie Rhoden taking lead on vocals with heavy reverb, repeating the song’s title to create a dreamy, almost shoegazey feeling. This was a sound that was presented in small doses across the band’s earlier releases (Head in the Ceiling Fan), but has never previously had the chance to come to full fruition, their previous efforts focusing a full-fledge punk onslaught.
Lead single Chlorine draws a line between punk and dreamscape with a droning, effects-driven guitar introduction. This is followed closely by an engulfing wall of sound. Check out the angst provoking Groundhog Day-esque music video for Chlorine below.
The highlight of Hyperview comes with Rose of Sharon, the album’s second single. Starting with a sustained, swelling guitar-based introduction, it isn’t long before the band bursts into double time. However, Rose of Sharon embodies the best of both sides of Title Fight’s spectrum: clean guitars matched by bassist Ned Russin’s raspy yelling, an aspect of the band’s sound that used to give the songs their aggressive punch, but that the band for the most part strays away from for the rest of Hyperview. Check out the dark, somewhat disturbing video for Rose of Sharon below.
In a recent Stereogum cover story, the band gave their definition of the term Hyperview as “a state of existence where you can see things for what they truly are. It’s a hyper-awareness. Acute sensibility.” This certainly comes through on the band’s third full-length effort, and it pays off. The result is a record that rewards the listener spin after spin, always providing something new. Hyperview is going to open up Title Fight to a completely new, perhaps more widespread audience. This doesn’t mean the band have lost touch with their roots, allowing them to embody and exemplify the best type of musical evolution.
Be sure to catch Title Fight on tour this Spring.
Reviews published prior to February 23, 2015 used a 1-5 star rating system.