Born in the basements of Scranton, Pa., Tigers Jaw has bucked indie rock trends and blogosphere pressure to create a sound that is patently their own. Their blend of indie rock and pop-punk is musically complex while still being flat-out fun and relatable. While this week’s release of their long-awaited second LP, Two Worlds, brought the band out of the basement to tour across the country, they haven’t lost any of their underground spirit.
Two Worlds is the natural next step for the band’s discography, evolving naturally from their self-titled LP and successful split record with Balance & Composure. It retains the same sense of equilibrium between frontman Adam McIlwee and lead guitarist Ben Walsh, who shared most of the vocal duties, and plays up the vocal harmonies of keyboardist Brianna Collins. But while Collins’s vocals are a welcome addition, her instrumental work is what really shines through, particularly the hauntingly catchy organ break in “Test Pattern.”
The record opens with “Return,” a classic Tigers Jaw jam with Walsh’s melodic lyrics punctuated by catchy guitar leads and a surging drum line. The album lifts off from this point with a series of solid jams, leading into “I Saw the Wolf,” a great acoustic duet between Collins and McIlwee. It’s a song that shows the group’s diversity and marks the shift between the first and second halves of the album.
Two Worlds closes with the introspective “Thank You, Noah Lowry,” followed by “Static,” which swells to a swirling tempest as bassist Dennis Mishko belts out his first-ever vocal cameo amidst the confusion. “My head, it lies at the confluence of insanity here in my room and of catastrophe in letters,” he cries.
Both musically and lyrically, Two Worlds is an album about deciding who you are. The band takes a stand for everyone who has ever dared to stray from the normal path; as McIlwee belts out in the title track,“I want to be a loser forever, man.” Tigers Jaw shows us on Two Worlds that sometimes you have to forge a new path to find your way.
Voice’s Choices: “Return,” “Test Pattern,” “Thank You, Noah Lowry”