Pensive. Simple. Slow. These words, remarkably, describe the opening track of Title Fight’s most recent album, Hyperview. You could call the Pennsylvania-based group “punk,” or “shoegaze,” or even “post-hardcore” if you were feeling artsy and generous – but no matter which genre the band fits into, I certainly didn’t expect Hyperview to come across quite the way it does.
How does Hyperview come across, you ask? My gut reaction is to say that it’s more complex than I anticipated. Title Fight, historically, has done a fantastic job of conveying the interpersonal relations of the outcast, of telling fringe kids’ angsty stories through song (albeit with less-than-perfect enunciation, one of the band’s weakest points). So when I turned on Hyperview for the first time, I thought I was going to hear more of the same – gritty guitar riffs, throat-ripping vocals, and a heck of a lot of in-your-face emotion. But, even as the contemplative first track, “Murder Your Memory,” faded into the more abrasive second track, “Chlorine,” it became clear that Title Fight had, with this album, tapped into a subtlety that is both surprising and successful.
Up-tempo ambient rock reigns supreme for most of the album, and minor chords are far more prevalent than major. Shades of post-punk and goth rock appear sporadically as single, sliding guitar notes pierce through walls of sound. The band slows down for introspective, slower pieces like the album’s penultimate track, “Dizzy,” and the heart-wrenching “Your Pain is Mine Now.” Remnants of the band’s old sound shine through in rollicking and driven tracks like “Rose of Sharon” and “New Vision.” The result is a veritable journey of an album that takes the listener through distinct highs and lows, and paints a complex picture of the band’s present goals, desires, and capabilities.
The album is enjoyable, but almost neutrally so. I’m not offended by any of it, but I’m captivated by very little of it. If the album has a weakness that can be pinpointed, that’s it. Realistically, I don’t see myself reaching for Hyperview with excitement anytime soon.
Title Fight retains from its mid-2000s roots a strong sense of drive, but their energy has matured with age. Hyperview may not be an album that speaks directly to punk kids crammed into someone’s basement for a DIY show. But for a punk kid who has grown up a little, for a former punk kid who now wears a suit or a uniform on a day-to-day basis, but who remembers the days of garage bands and few showers and lost love with fondness – for that punk kid, this might just be a perfect album.