Artist: Title Fight
Album: Floral Green
Genre: Hardcore, post-hardcore
Label: Side One Dummy
Confident and uncompromising, Title Fight are very much the darlings of the hardcore scene. Their second full-length Floral Green is a solid affair, showcasing a band driven by austere melodies yet unafraid to embrace something more unusual. It is largely satisfying, aside from the occasional tendency to draw songs out too long or blend them into one another. That some songs sound overly familiar may be down to Ned Russin’s vocals, which are far from imaginative and follow the same rough structure in every track. That said, his harassed roaring is key to this album. It binds everything in a kind of tussled, unhappy mire. He sings callously, with a raw and scalded quality that makes him sound exhausted and raspy. Floral Green pursues an intriguing path at times and can turn from its standard mucousy sound to something oddly haunted or bleak, drenching a hardened sentiment in the noisy overtures of the guitars. In this, it highlights a certain eye for reinvention and ensures the album doesn’t become too burdensome or predictable.
It is, perhaps predictably, the longer tracks that seem to veer away from the mould. After a smouldering series of openers, “Head in the Ceiling Fan” is more long-drawn-out and methodical, evoking a sense of distraction or desolation. The run time removes much of the fieriness that’s so unequivocal in other tracks, so that this and its ilk seem far more laboured. Floral Green’s final offerings in particular seem to turn the record on its head. “Lefty” is wayward and very slow-burning, the band making their way unenthusiastically through a series of deadpan notes. “In-Between” is also very languid. Its stark opening notes linger in the memory, emphasising the dull mood that seems to have taken hold towards the album’s demise. Jamie Rhoden sounds exceptional here, adopting a vacant and meandering stance that sparks off the vibrancy of the guitars. The music is robust, but there is a gleaming mysticism to the guitars that makes all this quite alluring.
This is not to imply that the rest of the record is without diversity. While the tracks do all share a rough and stark demeanour, some are more sensitive than they first appear. “Make You Cry” is something of an emotional brace, its turgid pace reflecting stumped solitude and uncertainty. Rhoden delivers a distant performance that matches the wafting backing vocals well and creates a sense of conflict. The track stands out amid a series of more robust pieces. “Secret Society” offsets the maligned tones of the earlier tracks with a strapping, lustful sound in which the guitars bid to outdo one another for vividness and ebullience. “Numb, But I Still Feel It” is a rigorous and scathing opener, while “Leaf” is even more overt in its zealous strike on the jugular. There is an attentiveness to these tracks that stands out. Even though the pallor is quite firmly etched in grey, it never feels like senseless noise. The tricks and depths are subtly interwoven so that they may not be immediately apparent, but reveal themselves gradually. “Like A Ritual” for instance opens quite cool and assured, then slowly descends into a more resigned and lifeless piece by the end.
Floral Green is a tough and caustic record, as maddeningly severe as it can be surprisingly vulnerable at times. It is impulsive and unremitting, but its insistence on colouring certain tracks with a colder, wounded sensibility ensures it remains a grounded listen. It goes without saying that their style mightn’t agree with everyone but there is a lot more thought and consideration in here than you might expect.
Review written by Grace Duffy