Chances are you will read many reviews of Title Fight’s new record Floral Green, and almost every single one will compare the band to their current emo-revival peers or comment on their ’90s-influenced image. But we’re going to skip all of that, because this is an album that is so powerful and so moving that it transcends any comparisons to the band’s peers or influences. You don’t need to be a fan of Jawbreaker or any of the “wave” bands to enjoy this album; you just need to like music.
Opener “Numb, But I Still Feel It” is not only a standout track on the record, but is also one of the year’s best songs. When vocalist Ned Russin screams “I wish I could get over this feeling of slipping under / I never get that far,” the pain in his voice is so poignant that it’s impossible not to feel moved. Of course, the song also sounds fantastic. The guitars are played with a combination of grace and aggression, and the mixture noodling riffs and driving power chords really give it a full feeling. Fortunately, the great opener does not outdo the rest of the album. “Leaf” is a blunt list of sadness, with Russin declaring, “I feel lost / Feel boring / I’ve been caught sleeping all morning / I feel scared of knowing / I’m just a single leaf in the wind blowing.” This kind of raw emotion would be enough to make any track great, so the fantastic musicianship is an added bonus. However, the vocals and lyrics don’t always steal the show, and the next song, “Like a Ritual,” proves this. This time the climax is brought by the guitars’ harmonics, resulting in a brilliant change of pace.
The album continues with the fast-paced single “Secret Society.” The song possesses pop sensibilities, a visceral intensity, a catchy chorus, and an invigorating guitar solo, making for the heaviest and most accessible track on the album. They then change gears and show their ability to pace the record on “Head in the Ceiling Fan,” which serves as a dreamy interlude between the very quick and aggressive first half of the album and the intensely sad second half.
The aptly titled “Make You Cry” begins the album’s depressing B-side and combines ferocious verses with a very smooth and relatively quiet chorus. This makes for another great song, and its utilization of dynamics shows how impressive the band’s songwriting skills are. Even though “Make You Cry” is a very intense listen, “Sympathy” takes the album’s morbidity to a new level. Over the twinkling guitars and irregular drum beat, Russin bellows, “I’ve led myself to believe / The world has turned its back on me / How’s that for comforting?”. While the band doesn’t quite match the strength of the previous two songs on “Frown” and “Calloused,” they still produce two great tracks. The former features a very infectious chorus while the latter juxtaposes crunchy guitars, a fuzzy bass, high-pitched backing vocals, and some very gruff and low lead vocals.
Somehow, after nine songs that are as passionate and moving as any you will hear, the band saves the best for last. “Lefty” showcases so much of what makes the record work with the moody lyrics, great guitar tones, and dynamics that are superbly executed. The closer “In-Between” employs many of the elements that were used previously on the album, but also adds on new elements like slightly altered guitar tones and keys. Most importantly, there is actually a glimmer of hope in the lyrics, helping to end the album on a high note.
When the full experience is over, it’s hard not to feel emotionally exhausted, which is truly a testament to how strong of an outing Floral Green is. Even though it might not be innovative or musically complex, its sheer power and intensity can win any listener over. Ultimately, Title Fight haven’t only created an album that is their best to date, they have also created the year’s best album to date.