Releasing any new music in the midst of a global pandemic is difficult enough, but to release a full studio album has even more challenges, especially considering the band can’t even tour it. But Midwestern rockers Tigers Jaw have managed to smash it out of the park with their new album, I Won’t Care How You Remember Me, out now across all streaming platforms.
This is the band’s first album released on their new label – Hopeless Records, and takes a different approach to song writing, with this being a collaboration between the now four official members of Tigers Jaw, after Colin and Teddy were made a part of the group after their 2018 tour, alongside founders Brianna and Ben.
Now, to start with I have to be honest, this is not the same, first listen type of album review I normally do. This is because I have already been listening to the four tracks already released – Cat’s Cradle, Lemon Mouth, Hesitation and New Detroit. More on these later on.
The album opens with the title track, I Won’t Care How You Remember Me. In a year where death and bad news has been constantly shoved in our faces, the title has an oddly sombre feeling, but also a feeling of defiance, one of not being afraid to be different (if there’s one thing that sums up Midwestern Emo, I think that’s it)
The tracks acoustic sound, reminds me of their 2008 self-titled album, but Ben’s soft vocals takes this into a different direction, keeping up with the sombre mood I mentioned above. Being just the guitar and keyboard/synths, this would make a great track played in the acoustic pairing this band are known so well for. The song itself seems like a big “fuck you” to all those out there who try to instil hate, and ignore the truth for personal gain, but with also a feeling of acceptance that you can’t change what’s going on around you, sometimes things are the way they are.
Did I say acoustic and piano? Well, actually no. Just after the two minute marker, we get that heavy rock drop that we know well from Tigers Jaw. From here on, the songs goes even more into the angry, defiant, let’s fight the system style that I was really hoping for from this band.
As an opening track, I am very hopeful for this album.
Up next is Cat’s Cradle, the first of the pre-released tracks. Taking on more of a pop sound, with the song being driven by Brianna, both on vocals and synths, this is one I’ve been enjoying for a while now. In an almost classic Brianna style, this track jumps around different themes and meanings, almost confusing, but with an underlying theme around trying to satisfy others (I’m starting to see an album theme coming through…). This is one track I’ve been loving for a while and certainly going to keep rocking out to.
Following on is another pre-release – Hesitation. With a strangely mesmerising music video to go alongside, this is the first song on the album that is clear the band have worked together on it, with both the lyrical and musical elements combining. To me, this song uses the metaphor of driving to signify a fear of something happening, they keep driving so they don’t have to stop and face the reality. It might be a bit of a stretch to find a meaning but I think that pretty much sums this song up. In regards to the music video? I have no idea, I think they just made that as it looked like it was good fun.
New Detroit, the most recent pre-release follows on. I’ll be honest, this is my least favourite of the ones I’ve heard so far. Whether that is because I haven’t listened to it as much, I don’t know, but the slower, more droning sound just doesn’t hit it like the rest of the album so far. By any other bands standards, this is still a good song, but to me, it doesn’t live up to the same sound we have seen so far in this album. The driving acoustic guitar but with a heavier drum and bass line try to hail back to a weird old/new Tigers Jaw hybrid, and sadly it hasn’t quite worked in this case. But that’s enough slating, the song does still have a really good guitar solo, and the shorter, punchy style does help break up the album.
This is followed by Can’t Wait Forever, which goes straight into the heavier style that hits you right in the face. This song is driven by heavy, overdriven guitars, and really makes you want to be in a mosh pit. No wasting time with introductions, this song gets straight into it, continuing to showcase messages shown in earlier songs – angry, defiant, no longer pleasing others. Accompanied by a guitar solo near the end, this would absolutely kill a live show one day.
The last of the pre-releases, Lemon Mouth is another of the more pop-rock style song, with Brianna back at the front for vocals. This is another that really gets right to you, a super catchy tune, with a cool mix of guitars and synths for what is quickly becoming a signature sound for the band. Keeping to a similar vein to Cat’s Cradle, this song seems to dart around different ideas and meanings, but instead has the feelings of self-doubt and over-thought. Accompanied by a trippy music video, directed by Brianna herself, this is another saucy banger!
Track 7 is titled Body Language, and rips straight into a heavier bassline, a stark contrast to the previous song. This has a similar feel to New Detroit, with Ben’s vocals seemingly going into this new, slower, less rock, more pop direction. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a decent singalong track, and would kill a live show, but I’m just not feeling it 100%. I also have to mention that it sounds like it hasn’t been mixed properly, with the vocals struggling to make themselves known in the song. Another song focusing on relationships now gone, this is one that is not for me, but I’m sure there are others out there who would love it.
Commit goes into a completely different direction, one I don’t think we’ve ever heard from this band. This indie-pop-rock-funk hybrid of a song bangs straight away! Although a relatively short song, this new mix is a proper dance-around-the-kitchen tune (or is it just me?). Keeping on the theme of themes of sleep, the stars and everything in between, this is so far my favourite track of the whole album, and will probably be top of my daily listening for a good few weeks.
Coming along next is Never Wanted To. Without even listening to the track I wonder if this is a reference to one of their biggest songs – Never Saw It Coming? And on first listening, the answer is no. However, we do seem to be going back to the older style of Tigers Jaw here – slower, drawn out vocals from Ben and Brianna together, accompanied by the heavier guitars and a slower drum beat. To join it all is a traditional country style guitar solo, before going into a heavier rock style solo shortly after. This is one that would sound excellent live, both full band and acoustic.
The penultimate track is Heaven Apart. With a longer, more drawn out introduction, this would make a great opening track for a show, before going into Brianna’s vocals. This time, taking on a deeper, more soulful sound, this track still goes into new territory for the band, even having a piano and vocal solo (almost, dare I say it, in Taylor Swift style). This isn’t anything bad, I really love this track. But for those who don’t love it, don’t worry, it doesn’t last long before going back into the rock-soul-pop style I’m really growing to love.
And to top it all off is Anniversary, which starts off like a proper Midwestern emo song. Another song with a mix of Ben and Brianna’s vocals, I can already feel a new hit song in the lines. Well this is another that is also going into my daily listen, and one I think would be a proper crowd pleaser live. The instantly catchy chorus, the amazing guitar riffs and even a washed out vocals section are making me fall in love with a song. Honestly, I cannot express how much I like this song. With one last message of self-defiance and hope, this is a killer ending a genuinely awesome album.
Overall, I really like this album. With the exception of Commit, I think it’s fair to say the band have played it pretty safe with their sound, not really pushing the boundaries of their music. Is this a bad thing? Not really, but it would be nice to see something really out there.
I cannot wait to get to see these guys live, hopefully later this year, if not then next year. But in the meantime, there is a showcase of a (pre-recorded) release show on their YouTube channel tonight at 8pm EST (that’s 1am in the UK), and hopefully I’ll see some of you there!