When more than half the band unexpectedly quit back in 2013, it would have been so easy for the remaining members of Tigers Jaw to call it a day right there and then. Thank the emo gods that they didn’t, because the work that guitarist/vocalist Ben Walsh and vocalist/keyboardist Brianna Collins have done together since has been absolutely stellar. Their 2014 album ‘Charmer’ was a triumph, rising defiantly from the ashes of a situation that would have finished off most bands, and 2017’s excellent ‘Spin’ further built on this new dynamic and showed the world that Tigers Jaw was now more well-rounded than ever before; polished and gleaming but with that same heartfelt earnestness that had warmed people to them in the first place.
‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’ is the band’s sixth studio album and while it isn’t a huge sonic departure from ‘Spin’, the quality of the songwriting is so high that it’s difficult to care. The opening (and title) track starts with simple acoustic chords and an upbeat-yet-forlorn vocal performance from Ben Walsh. Layers of subtle keyboards and vocal harmonies add texture to the track before the whole band crashes in at around the two minute mark. This striking moment is the first of many where Will Yip’s fantastic production really shines; he really does deserve a mention for the sense of power and urgency he has given this album, particularly in the production of the drums, which sound gigantic throughout.
As always, Brianna Collins takes the lead vocal on a couple of tracks and, as always, they’re some of the album’s stand-out moments. The post-punk inspired ‘Lemon Mouth’ is a psychedelic delight with shimmering guitars and driving bass, whereas the off-kilter and mostly drum-led ‘Commit’ almost has an air of mid-career Paramore about it – musically at least. Collins’ grounded vocal performance, however, makes it sound more down-to-earth and sincere than it might have done in the hands of Hayley Williams and co.
The rest of the record is made up of the band’s signature mix of emo, pop-punk and indie rock, and the quality doesn’t let up from start to finish. From the high-energy bounce of ‘Hesitation’ and ‘Can’t Wait Forever’ to the more subdued numbers like ‘New Detroit’ and ‘Never Wanted To’, it’s clear that the members of Tigers Jaw put a lot of time into every tiny little detail of these songs, and yet they somehow make them sound so simple that they float effortlessly into the ear of the listener.
Only truly great songwriters can make a seemingly straightforward song stand out, and they don’t come much better at simple yet impactful songs than Tigers Jaw. This album isn’t out to challenge you, it’s there to create a warm embrace for you to just exist in for half an hour. If that sounds like a welcome break after the stressful year we’ve all had, then give this wonderful little record a listen.