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‘Floral Green’ is the furthest step that Kingston four-piece Title Fight have taken from the raw, scrappy, yet brilliantly catchy sound that thrust them into the international spotlight. Over time, the pop punk-meets-melodic hardcore shtick of tracks like 2007’s ‘Anaconda Sniper’ has gradually shifted to darker, more foreboding territory, beginning with the newer material that bookends the 2009 compilation album, ’The Last Thing You Forget’.
Their latest LP holds a cold shoulder to the brighter, more upbeat moments of primary influencers like Brand New and Lifetime, pegging its tents firmly within the camp of 90s melodic hardcore and emo. At its core, ‘Floral Green’ speaks of an older, more mature Title Fight, a band ready to move beyond the safer confines of melodic hooks and let the emotional urgency of their music speak for itself.
As with many of their peers like Make Do And Mend, Daylight, and Basement, Title Fight have a hard-on for the sound that melodic hardcore/emo kingpins Jawbreaker and Mineral brought to the table in the 90s. Opener ‘Numb, But I Still Feel It’ takes the aesthetic of these bands and gives it a higher fidelity, sanding off the grit with modern production values without compromising the energy of the track.
Staying true to its title, ‘Floral Green’ is a lush, fully realised album, anchored by dense, driving guitars that are far removed from the hollow, DIY punk distortion of Title Fight’s pre-‘Shed’ releases. The moody chord progressions of tracks like ‘Like A Ritual’ lay the groundwork for vocalists Ned Russin and Jamie Rhoden to walk over, retracing steps that fans will be affectionately familiar with. Russin is the main player here, holding the reigns with his loud, overstated punk style of singing on the Jawbreaker tribute, ‘Secret Society’. The chaotic yet sombre ‘Make You Cry’ sees the pair at their most melodic, joining forces for a powerful, harmonised chorus in between belting, almost-shouted verses.
Despite holding on to certain defining aspects of their sound, progression is the rule of thumb for Title Fight this time around. ‘Floral Green’ drops the shift in pace that 2011’s ‘Shed’ began by a few more k’s per hour, settling comfortably into a ‘27’-esque, mid-tempo beat that rarely deviates. Drummer Ben Russin slows his breakneck speed down to four-to-the-floor punk patterns, setting the tone with spacious, atmospheric cymbals on the quieter moments of ‘Make You Cry’.
The dreamy, droning, effect-laden ‘Head In The Ceiling Fan’ provides the album’s softest four minutes, continuing its appreciation of the 90s with nods to alternative rock shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine. Jamie Rhoden helms the track with a solemn, drawling vocal melody, surrounding himself with soft, fleshed-out chords and a beautiful lead guitar line that traverses quietly through the mix. It is through experimentation like this that Title Fight show the full scope of their songwriting ability.
On ‘Floral Green’, Kingston melodic hardcore/punk band Title Fight are at their most mature and creative. Album number two sees the band relaxing the pace of their stride, building on the progress of ‘Shed’ with slower, more concise songwriting that is firmly indebted to 90s emo and melodic hardcore pioneers. Well-written and emotionally endearing, this is an impeccable release that lovers of the genre cannot miss.
1. Numb, But I Still Feel It
3. Like A Ritual
4. Secret Society
5. Head In The Ceiling Fan
6. Make You Cry