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Album Review: Charmer by Tigers Jaw

Pennsylvanian punks Tigers Jaw released their fourth album Charmer two weeks earlier than the planned release date of 6th June due to a leak. Due to the uncertain future of the band over the last year Charmer managed to garner unexpected levels of interest and it quickly became one of the most anticipated punk releases of 2014.

Let’s broach this uncertainty… March 2013 saw the band announce they’d be going on indefinite hiatus, the cancellation of mainland Europe dates then fuelled speculation that the band had split completely. Then in an unexpected turn of events it turned out Tigers Jaw would be continuing as a two piece (Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins) and realising a new album.

Charmer is the resulting album. It’s a gentle punk album falling somewhere in between Lemuria and The Menzingers, there’s some great hooks bursting from the seams with ‘Hum’, ‘Charmer’ and ‘Nervous Kids’ being excellent tracks. However you get the feeling that Tigers Jaw have lost some of the magic that made them such a formidable act.

That’s not to say Charmer isn’t a great album, the hooks and punk riffs are as infectious and chunky as ever. The aforementioned ‘Nervous Kids’ is a fine example; the snappy guitar riff is excellent. The problem lies with Walsh’s vocal; it seems to have lost its soul, sounding flat and passionless. Conversely the vocal gives tracks like ‘I Envy Your Apathy’ a sombre shoe-gaze quality akin to Dinosaur Junior – credit where credit is due – it works wonderfully.

The boisterous energy is turned down a notch for Charmer, whilst many punk bands rely on this energy; it ends up working in Tigers Jaw’s favour. ‘Slow Divide’ ends up sounding expansive and assured. ‘Slow Come On’ is the closest you get to the Tigers Jaw of old, it turns out as a riotous alt punk anthem, the hooks are instantaneous you’ll find yourself singing along.

‘Teen Rocket’ is a surprise package, laid back and containing some sombre lyrics it ends up being infectious, the guitar work is excellent and the hooks are supreme. Towards the end of the track you’ll even find Walsh’s vocal gaining a new energy. Some of that reinvigorated energy is carried over to ‘Distress Signal’, the addition of Collins’ vocal adds a fantastic dimension. Again it proves to be an excellent track.

Charmer ends up being a mixed bag of sorts. Excellent in parts, a little dull in others it comes out being a strong album albeit not fully convincing you that their hearts are still in it.

AD rating 7/10

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