Tigers Jaw – Charmer
Run for Cover, 2014
I love a good break-up album, but it’s another beast entirely when the break-up in question is the band producing the record. During the recording of Charmer, Tigers Jaw effectively parted ways. Three of the five members walked out, but not before finishing the band’s third album like a parting gift. That knowledge hangs over Charmer like a black cloud, but the saddest thing is that this album is fantastic and even though the two remaining members of the band claim they’re going to soldier on, this incarnation of Tigers Jaw is effectively kaput.
While Tigers Jaw doesn’t break much new ground, their brand of emo-revival infused indie rock is both catchy and emotionally gratifying, which is super satisfying. The album’s title doesn’t lie; this one is an absolute charmer. Despite a pretty standard indie rock set-up, the band’s pop-punk roots show in their gift for a good hook. There is a surprising amount of diversity in the vocals, which not only keeps things fresh but also keeps the perpetual emotional resonance churning.
Despite the upbeat tunes, these songs are deeply felt. I don’t know if people are into that, it seems like it might be uncool to get ultra emotional in music, or maybe it’s coming back (see: the aforementioned emo-revival). Does that bother these bands? The emo tag? I’d like to think they’re above it and embrace the tag because A.) it’s true and B.) it’s way more in the spirit of Sunny Day Real Estate than Dashboard Confessional. Or maybe, in Tigers Jaw’s case, less Sunny Day Real Estate, more a less dramatic Brand New with a little Morrissey moroseness peppered in for good measure.
Details of the band’s demise are pretty hazy, but the minor triumph they’ve left behind stands on its own. I suppose it’s better to have your crowning achievement be the thing that destroyed you, because at least you know at the end of everything it was worth it. Charmer is one of those albums that reminds me that a band needn’t reinvent the wheel for me to sing their praises. Honestly, a solid record embedded with tangible passion is usually enough to make me happy. Which is why I have listened to this record twenty times in the last week. Honestly, over the past 13 years, every time I listen to a record I think about what I’m going to write when I write about it. My brain is broken that way. Since I was old enough to care about music, I started writing about it, and this album somehow managed to shut down (or at least numb) that part of my brain for a good while. I had to catch myself just enjoying the music, getting lost in the gorgeous boy/girl harmonies that occasionally pop up here and there. The simple yet soulful quasi-solos. The little keyboard lines that seems to run through all the songs like a common thread. I kept thinking about how thankful I was that this album even got finished. It made me contemplate the mortality of all the pleasure I took in listening to this record on repeat. Sometimes it’s just nice to be thankful. To enjoy what you enjoy, appreciate what you can while you can, and get lost in the tunes.