Title Fight’s release is a punk masterpiece

by Kevin Smead

When I first saw Title Fight, its first album “The Last Thing You Forget” had just been released, and the band was on tour opening for Four Year Strong and Strike Anywhere. It seems, with the release of its third album “Floral Green,” Title Fight has come quite a long way, both musically and as a band.

Following the release of 2011’s sophomore effort “Shed,” Title Fight shows its progression in a number of different ways. Whereas the first album was full of punk riffs and catchy pop aspects, “Shed” was much more technically proficient. Songs were much more dynamically varied and the writing, while less catchy, was much stronger. With the release of “Floral Green,” Title Fight continued along this line of progression. Focusing more on hardcore than pop-punk, this latest album is a complex and interesting outing for the band, though it’s not always engrossing.

The album opens in familiar Title Fight fashion. In “Numb, But I Still Feel It,” crunchy guitars build over a prolonged drum roll, leading into a midtempo driving verse with strained vocals braying above the instruments. The next few tracks keep the momentum up with the excellent “Leaf,” followed by the also great “Like a Ritual.” These two tracks sound like something off of Title Fight’s first two albums: fairly straightforward melodic hardcore, though one can already notice the omission of pop influence on this record. I hate using the word “mature” when describing bands, but there is a difference between being a scrappy punk band that can play some power chords and yell, and being a well put together band that has honed its craft over time. While Title Fight definitely comes from the former tradition—with influences including bands such as Youth of Today and Kid Dynamite—it definitely leans closer to the former with this album.

The next couple of tracks are testament to this. “Secret Society” sounds somewhat like an homage to ‘80s hardcore and one track later the single from the album, “Head in the Ceiling Fan,” borders on post-rock and shoegaze, as it’s much more subdued and ambient. This is where guitarists Jamie Rhoden and Shane Moran really shine, using all sorts of effects to make their guitars sound huge. Thankfully, this is only for one track, because it doesn’t seem to suit the band completely. Title Fight seems more comfortable in the punk rather than indie realm. This is quickly washed away, however, as the album returns to its signature melodic hardcore. We’re given one more glimpse into the softer side of things in “Lefty,” which features the same sort of ambient and experimental guitars right before the album ends with “In-Between,” another relatively downtempo song.

My vote for standout track goes to “Frown,” where the band really sounds like itself. The song embodies everything great about the band, while holding true to the progressions its made across albums. It’d be great to see the next album follow this trend of more proficient guitar work and songwriting without crossing into the tired and, dare I say, boring. Despite these minor criticisms, “Floral Green” isn’t just a great punk album, it’s a great album. While I’m not sure if anything will be as great as Title Fight’s debut, “The Last Thing You Forget,” this is a great way for the band to progress and continue to grow as musicians.