ALBUM: Searching for a Pulse/The Worth of the World
ARTIST: Touché Amoré and La Dispute
Genres are a damning, almost oppressive, tool in this day and age.
The breadth of music, in all its forms, that’s instantly available nowadays should be breeding a more inclusive and well-versed generation of casual fans of music. Instead, there’s less of an urge to seek out variety, less of a thrill in trekking through countless garbage records to find that one jewel. Less of a desire to experience discovering new artists, that aren’t really all that new, tucked and hidden away neatly under the endless catalogue of art - not to mention discovering entire genres of music you never knew existed. It’s not just “rock,” “metal,” “country.” Nor is it just “hip-hop,” and “EDM,” and “pop.” There’s shoegaze, trap, drill, spoken-word, acoustic, ambient, 2-step, heavy metal, metalcore, post-hardcore, hardcore, progressive, mathcore. Now, more than ever, skimming by entire genres of music, simply based on a preconceived notion of what that genre entails, is second nature. It’s not that everyday people are listening to less music, it’s actually the opposite. Instead of exploring and braving uncharted (and unheard of) territory, we are only interested in consuming as much as is directly available to us, in a field we already feel complacent in. Albums rarely get spun for weeks on end, rather only until “hotnewhiphop” premiers another new track.
And, somewhere amidst this mess of genres, the chronic-tunnel vision of casual fans of music has kicked into hyperdrive - ignoring certain genres entirely because they might be too “aggressive,” and use “harsh vocals,” while blaring the latest Chief Keef single, instead of realizing it’s all one and the same. The basic rhythm, the tempo, the collision of instruments and white noise, traditional vocals and unique tics. All music is derived from a common core - you have to at least give it a try.
In 2010, one of my favorite bands, La Dispute, decided to release a split EP with a band I had always seen as kind of a lesser counterpart. Touché Amoré was a more typical hardcore ensemble, complete with the excessive aggression and dread as well as the extremely short runtimes for their songs. They weren’t far removed from La Dispute, but were starkly more abrasive and down to Earth. Hemingway to La Dispute’s Shakespeare. A clashing of basic structure and execution. The EP was to contain two songs a piece from each band, totaling in four tracks I thought would probably seem inconsequential between each band’s own LPs. But boy was I wrong; together they created a definitive post-hardcore release - take that genre- labeling however you may.
With a runtime of 8 minutes and 55 seconds, both frontmen, La Dispute’s Jordan Dreyer and Touché Amoré’s Jeremy Bolm, craft a series of statements for the world to digest uncomfortably, probably finding an awkward solace at the same time in the release offered by simply shouting your sorrows at the stars. Touché Amoré’s brutal honesty conjoins with La Dispute’s trademark poeticism for an onslaught of brash yet melodic existential revolts. The reasons why we all deserve what we get, and get what we deserve, followed by how we feel, and the reasons (or lack thereof) that it scares us.
It’s fitting that La Dispute, and Dreyer specifically, are left to deal with the emotions - "How I Feel" and "Why it Scares Me" - after Touché Amore has tackled the nihilistic "I'll Get My Just Deserve" and "I'll Deserve Just That" mentality. Both bands are in their comfort zone in that aspect, the more rugged and traditionally hardcore Touché Amoré applying the crass brevity of their craft to the first half of this release as La Dispute use the latter half as icing on the cake to pen more melodic and resonating counterparts. Touché Amoré tackles a baser anger, a more palpable frustration, while La Dispute grasps at the strings behind the curtain.
When you get passed the genre constraints, Searching for a Pulse/The Worth of the World is a tightly produced and brilliantly concise project that meshes two variants of the same style into a resonating and relentless force. Give it a try and question if your “movements are stage directions,” as I try, like I have been since I heard this record at sixteen, to believe that “the way I am is just the way it goes/for the things that came, not the things I chose.”
“My movements are stage directions”