Sound — 6
Forming in 2003, Title Fight were just a ragtag group inspired by the ongoing punk/post-hardcore scene at the time - easily seen as a simpler time, back when alexisonfire, Glassjaw and Finch were the fresh new faces carrying the post-hardcore torch, and when Rise Against were still doing stark melodic hardcore. But with Title Fight taking years before really taking off, the scene shifted into something much different from when the band was first incepted - Glassjaw and Finch lost exponential amounts of steam after their sophomore albums, alexisonfire would go defunct, and Rise Against would grow more and more alt-rock by the album.
Despite how things have changed, Title Fight would end up fitting among a rank of similarly-minded young bands (like Balance And Composure, O'Brother, Touche Amore and Pianos Become The Teeth) that continued the punk/post-hardcore style from over a decade ago that was usurped by the popularity of metalcore years ago. With the release of their debut album, "Shed," in 2011, Title Fight garnered warm reception and admirable buzz with their melodic hardcore sound, and continued the momentum with the release of their follow-up album, "Floral Green," a year later.
But it's not just the music scene at large that changes over time, but bands as well, and despite only being two albums in, Title Fight sought for a substantial change in their sound - the result of which is their third studio album, "Hyperview." Though there were some telltale signs in their last album that this change would be coming sooner than later, Title Fight take a big jump away from their melodic hardcore roots. They swap the gritty distortion for a shinier, janglier, phaser-heavy guitar sound, and vocal duties are primarily given to the soft-spoken frontman Jamie Rhoden, whose woozy singing sounds like Julian Casablancas after taking Ambien.
At face value, "Hyperview" sounds nothing like the fleeting abrasiveness of Title Fight 1.0, but given a closer look, the frenetic spirit of the band still fuels numerous songs, making the change in sound not entirely unmanageable for the punksters. The upbeat cuts ("jangle-punk," if you will) like "Mrahc," "Trace Me Onto You," and "New Vision" could easily be translated into melodic hardcore songs, and "Rose of Sharon" is the only track on the album that uses bassist Ned Russin's coarse vocals, which makes the track sound synonymous with Cloud Nothings.
But while Title Fight successfully wield this new sound of theirs with no apprehension or wishy-washiness, they do wield this new sound with a simplicity that ends up being the big fault in "Hyperview." The heavy investment on guitar jangle and phaser makes the album's sound generally singular (which gets tiresome by the second half of the album), and while some moments show decent experimentation - like the serene opener "Murder Your Memory," the smooth "Your Pain Is Mine Now," and the hazy tremolo that complements the standout bass melody and drumbeat in "Hypernight" - other tracks like "Liar's Love" and "Dizzy" meander about with little to pique the interest.
Lyrics — 7
The perfect microcosm to the lyrics of "Hyperview" is found in the opening verse of "Hypernight": "Vague, I'm so misleading/forgotten feelings/try to read my mind/hiding secrets in front of open eyes." With emotional turmoil still being the theme at large in "Hyperview" like Title Fight's previous albums, instead of drawing clear-cut emo narratives of self-loathing and lethargy, "Hyperview" attempts to cloak its messages by being terse and cryptic. Aesthetically, this complements the general feel of songs - Rhoden can stretch only a handful of syllables to make a full stanza (see "Chlorine," "Mrahc," "Dizzy" or "New Vision"), and the ethereal disposition of his voice sounds better delivering a scarce amount of words rather than a mouthful.
Along with that, Title Fight taking the "less is more" route has shown to better their articulation. As opposed to the incessant hammering of same crux in nearly every song in "Floral Green," the ongoing themes in "Hyperview" are more subtly tethered together - selective memory, both intentional and unintentional, plays a big role throughout the album, echoing from the self-commandment of "Murder Your Memory" to the hazy remembrance of "Dizzy"; and the fight between resisting emotion and giving into emotion manifests in several songs, from wallowing in solipsistic despair in "Hypernight" and "Liar's Love" to trying not to fall into the grieving process in "Rose of Sharon."
Overall Impression — 7
Looking at the big picture, "Hyperview" is tough to pin down into a straight success or flop. On the commendable side, "Hyperview" wields a sound that's fresh compared to Title Fight's other two albums, and the band's choice to dip more than just a couple toes into those new waters is admirable. On the other hand, the sound experimentation in "Hyperview" isn't exactly groundbreaking, and the freshness of sound within the album wanes. Perhaps what's most important, though, is that the new sound of "Hyperview" really isn't polarizing. Gritty it may not be, but the energy expected from Title Fight still remains to keep the punk fans on board, and the dreamier moments help make that energy more dynamic. If that's the most that counts, "Hyperview" does its job well.