After releasing The Last Thing You Forget in 2009 on Run For Cover Records, Kingston, Pennsylvania’s Title Fight started carving a path for them selves in the hardcore and punk scene. Drawing on inspiration from bands such as Knapsack and Jawbreaker on 2011’s Shed, they received high praise in the revitalized punk community and released the well-received Floral Green in 2012 followed by a split with Touche Amore and an EP in 2013. However, within two years they have drastically flipped their sound and production styles for their latest release, Hyperview.
Vocalist Ted Russin said the band drew inspiration from artists such as Dinosaur, Jr. (a plausible comparison on the record) as well as The Beach Boys (much less plausible). Title Fight foregos the usual fast-paced, feverish playing they’ve mastered, choosing instead to offer up a dreamy, ethereal sound. While there were traces of a more melodic approach on Floral Green (think “Head In The Ceiling Fan”), on Hyperview they chose not to dip their toes into a My Bloody Valentine style shoegaze, but to instead jump knee-deep for the entire album.
The album opens with “Murder Your Memory,” a dragging tune that feels like it might slowly build to a quicker pace but steadily plateaus off. “Mrahc,” edges most into the most punk-esque with a catchy guitar riff ending out the song, while the following track “Your Pain Is Mine Now,” is far slower, with Russen’s tone veering ever so slightly into Morrissey-territory on the chorus. Conversely, “Chlorine,” the first single, is a prime example of how Title Fight has toyed around with the sound quality of their work but not so much the lyrical content—lines such as “poison in your mood/chlorine eyes from you/decorated blue/opening a wound” feel just as angst-ridden as anything found on Floral Green or Shed.
Songs such as “Liars Love” seem like they might feel more at home on a Real Estate record, while album closer “New Vision” sounds like it could have been an aggressive punk song but was, like every other song on the record, given a washing of reverb to drown out any chance of being perceived as too heavy or hardcore. The two most tracks most reminiscent of Title Fight’s previous works are “Hyperecho” and “Rose of Sharon.” While they still have the distinct echo-like quality of every other song on Hyperview, the band manages to evoke a sound more familiar to their fervent punk/hardcore roots. Still, the powerful energy formerly conveyed by these screams is so hindered by muffled production that it feels more like listening to a recording of the song from the back of the room and through a wall or two.
The slow, dwindling energy throughout the entirety of Hyperview makes the lyrics difficult to discern over the envelope of guitars and reverb. As opposed to just a general “fuzz” quality, the album is nearly all noise with little to no emphasis on vocals. Unfortunately, the unique vocal tone of Russin gets muddled in the production and essentially sounds as if he’s droning on the same song for the 32-minutes, with just the backing instruments changing every once in a while.
For long time fans of Title Fight, such a drastic development could be slightly jarring to say the least. Still, it’s undoubtedly a commendable move to make and clearly a step into a more mature sound for the band’s future. While the overwhelming sound and production quality doesn’t necessarily make this release a failure, it’s clear that continued progress and maturation with this new sound are in order for future releases. With Vogue.com giving them publicity last month, the music of Hyperview is clearly a far cry from the Pennsylvanian punk-outlet that they began as. But with lyrical content reminiscent of an earlier time in the band’s history, it’s clear that at the root of it all, they are still the screaming, up-beat, fast-paced, melodic hardcore band that was born over ten years ago.