Good bands reinvent themselves. It’s a simple truth, but nonetheless one that has proved deadly for the careers of many once-great artists. If you stay in one place, you’re bound to fall behind the pack, and by not taking any risks, you’re denying yourself a cut of the reward.
Over the course of their career, Kingston, PA punks Title Fight have pretty much followed this rule as closely as possible. They’ve almost constantly added new influences to their style during their twelve years as a band, taking their original brand of pop punk and adding elements of both melodic hardcore and emo into the mix. As a result, anyone expecting a lot of consistency from Title Fight from record-to-record is bound to be disappointed, and their fourth effort, Hyperview, is no exception.
In fact, compared to 2012’s Floral Green, Hyperview barely sounds like the same band made it. The aggressive guitar tones have been replaced by a shoegazy, reverb-heavy sound that dominates every track, and the vocals of Jamie Rhoden, once gravelly and energetic, now lazily float around the instrumentation, drifting from phrase to phrase. If the band’s first two albums represented frustration with and denial of one’s emotional state, this one feels like somber acceptance, a reluctant realization that it’s better to just roll with the punches and carry on. It almost seems like, as the record’s futuristic title would suggest, Title Fight are seeing the world from a different perspective than on previous releases.
Despite the fact that they’ve been buried under a bunch of guitar effects, though, the songwriting tendencies that have pretty much made the band what they are can still be heard on Hyperview. Pop hooks and infectious riffage have always come easy to Title Fight, and there’s no shortage of them here, even though they’re presenting themselves a little differently than they have before. The one-two punch of “Liar’s Love” and “Dizzy” towards the end of the record are a great example, managing to fit a good amount of thematic consistency and simple-yet-addictive guitar work into a hazy, mesmeric package that fits the general feel of the record.
The band speeds it up a bit at times, too, with tracks like “Mrahc” and “Rose Of Sharon” proving that they can’t completely escape their pop punk roots. While the two songs I mentioned above take Title Fight’s seemingly inescapable knack for pop songwriting and slow it down, the faster parts of the record smooth it out, instead, while keeping the tempo intact. Instead of the gravelly, screeching guitars and larger-than-life drum sounds of their earlier work, these tracks ride upon melodies that flow through your ears instead of trying to bust them open. Of course, they’re still just as likely to get stuck in your head after a few listens, but instead of making you want to kick someone’s face in, they might actually help you relax.
So, then, even though this is probably the biggest transformation that the band has undertaken in their career, it’s definitely not as rough as some might assume. Sure, there’s really no punk attitude anymore, and the “I’m going to scream every word at the top of my lungs” songs aren’t anywhere to be found, but that really isn’t a bad thing considering what that’s all been traded for: A fresh new sound and an interesting direction towards the future. Title Fight may be one of the more unpredictable bands out there, but Hyperview should get fans new and old excited for about path they’re currently on.