Title Fight – Floral Green
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Record Label: Side One Dummy
Just when you think you have Title Fight all figured out, the band goes and releases something like Floral Green – an album that knocks you on your ass and leaves you wondering why you didn’t see this coming. After abandoning the in-your-face style of pop-punk found on earlier releases for a slowed down alt-punk/emo vibe on its 2011 Side One Dummy debut Shed, Title Fight is aiming to redefine its sound again with Floral Green. The band’s second album brings back some of the energy that may have been missing on Shed while still working in that shoegaze sound to flesh things out.
And just like Shed, Floral Green is another successful attempt at reviving that mid-90s emo sound, as opening track “Numb, But I Still Feel” builds into an eruption of raspy vocals and crashing chords. “Leaf” continues the early attitude of the album with Jamie Rhoden and Shane Moran’s simmering guitar riffs along with Ben Russin’s bombastic drumming leading the charge. Ned Russin’s gruff vocals have never sounded more confident here and throughout the rest of Floral Green. “Head In The Ceiling Fan” serves as Floral Green’s pseudo-interlude, giving listeners a chance to catch their breath after the album’s quick start. The song’s dreamy aura and slow chord changes create something that’s equally soothing as it is heavy.
Title Fight picks up the pace immediately after with “Make You Cry,” as Ned Russin screams from the top of his lungs over Moran’s melodic riffing. The two minute “Frown” feels like a throwback for longtime Title Fight fans with its aggressive intro and chorus, while closer “In-between” picks up where “Ceiling Fan” left off. The Nirvana influence is obvious within the laid-back, somewhat drowsy tone.
The infectious yet coarse nature of each song gives Floral Green a thick, substantial sound that’ll be difficult to shake from your daily rotation. Ned Russin and Jamie Rhoden’s lyrics are instantly relatable to any 20-something growing up in today’s America. Russin grapples with personal defeat and the notion of slipping away (“Leaf” and “Numb, But I Still Feel” respectively), while the dissonant “Sympathy” is in search of self-worth (“I never wanted sympathy, just wanted to be something… I just want to be interesting.”). The variety throughout the eleven tracks prevents the album from becoming too samey and showcases how much Title Fight has improved in its songwriting from Shed. However, Title Fight is at its best with “Lefty,” which may be the best song in the Kingston, PA, quartet's entire discography. The smooth transitions between slow and fast is enthralling, while the distortion and feedback throughout keeps the song raw. It’s a testament to how good Title Fight is getting at its craft.
Title Fight continues to live up to its billing as one of the most exciting and interesting bands in its genre. The progression from Shed to Floral Green (hell, even the progression made from the first track to the last) is astonishing. Even if you never came to fully appreciate Shed, you’d be a fool to not give this album a spin (or five). At the end of the day, Title Fight isn’t trying to reshape the sound of punk – they just want you to listen to better music. Floral Green accomplishes that and more.
Great review! I totally agree (and admittedly hold the album a little higher, I thought about writing a review for this). The entire first half of the album kills, Make You Cry holds my favorite TF lyrics to date and "Lefty"/"In-Between" close the album incredibly.
Nice job, Drew. I feel that there are just a few songs that are good, and then the rest is spectacular. It would probably fall around 85 or a tad higher for me, too.
Nirvana, Hole, Lemuria (to a lesser extent), etc vibes are present throughout the entire album in one way or another. It's really taken on a distinct and interesting style in that it feels like this is the 90s album TF have been wanting; they've nailed the guitar tones from the early alt/grunge scene perfectly. This is better than Shed, imo.