Fight

Title Fight’s third studio album, “Hyperview,” feels like a car ride down a forest-lined road. It feels like the days after a breakup, where the world stands still except for the quiet beating of your heart. It feels like the uncertainty and confusion of being young. 

“Hyperview,” the Pennsylvania natives’ junior work, expands on the band’s previous experimentation with shoegaze, a musical style that blends distorted guitar and subdued vocals, which they attempted in their second album, “Floral Green.” “Hyperview” officially marks the band’s transition from the abrasive pop-punk that made them famous to ambient, angst-drenched indie suitable for hours spent lost in sound with your forehead pressed against a bus’ cool glass window. 

For long-time Title Fight fans, who are accustomed to seeing the band delve into different genres, this album serves as a reminder that the band has the flexibility to evolve in any direction. 

The album’s premier track, “Murder Your Memory,” envelops the reader in a dreamy haze of guitar and low-key, repetitive vocals. For anyone familiar with Title Fight’s previous work, this track serves as a disclaimer: “No, this is not Floral Green or Shed. Yes, we are trying something new. Yes, we can pull it off.”

The album’s strongest track, the lovesick ballad “Your Pain Is Mine Now,” appears halfway through the album. Its amorphous mix of guitars and vocals are simultaneously relaxing and heart-wrenching. Vogue called the track “the pretty side of punk.”
Although the album does mark a definitive shift in the band’s sound, fans of their old material will find solace in songs such as “Mrahc” and “Hypernight.” Although these songs are decidedly relaxed, they maintain hints of the band’s former aggression. 

In 31 minutes, “Hyperview” delivers a solid listening experience, but the best thing about the album is that it isn’t perfect. “Hyperview” exemplifies the band’s search for a sound they feel truly comfortable in because, at times, it is disjointed and strange. The album has its dull moments, and, at times, the tracks seem to bleed together because of their similar-sounding guitar riffs. The album also conveys an odd sense of urgency — at any moment, the sound could explode. Far from diminishing the album, these blemishes make “Hyperview” an emotional piece, and they are the reason the tracks stick with you long after the music stops.

“Hyperview” suspends the listener in a void between the real world and a dreamy space of personal reflection. Though its brilliance might not be immediately apparent, the listener will want to immediately start it over after the final gripping note of the album’s last track, “New Vision.” 

With their new album, the foursome from Kingston, Pennsylvania, prove they have matured since their formation in 2003. Although they have yet to find their niche, “Hyperview” shows that Title Fight can play multiple genres and play them well. 

Listen to "Murder Your Memory," from new album "Hyperview," here:

Alternative punk band Title Fight will come to Austin this Wednesday to promote their new album Floral Green. The band has found a way to attract both mainstream and underground fans to their brand of punk. Photo courtesy of Manny Mares.

Pennsylvanian band Title Fight will bring their alternative punk sound to Red 7 Wednesday. The band is currently on tour with Pianos Become the Teeth and Single Mothers to promote their third album, Floral Green. Title Fight’s latest release exemplifies a common struggle that many hardcore bands face: evolve out of the genre or stay the same? If a punk band changes, they can risk being labeled as “sell-outs,” alienating the fan base. In the punk world, there can be a stigmatizing association of musical evolution with appealing to the masses.

Floral Green sees Title Fight abrasively chisel their way between the two. Having begun playing unabashed pop-punk, their sound has steadily changed since their first album, The Last Thing You Forget in 2009. Their transition, while certainly retaining punk influences, is notably marked by an almost complete drop of their poppier aspects in favor of grungy alternative rock. Proving to be true ’90s kids, they cite bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth as inspirations for their recent sound, and drummer Ben Russin couldn’t be happier.

“We’ve had a good reception, but we didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t a departure but a progression from previous material,” Ben Russin said, “Sales-wise it’s been better, not that it mattered, and we charted on Billboard, which is very surreal.”

The founding three members have been friends since childhood, forming the band in 2003 when they were only in sixth grade. Ben is the brother of bassist Ned Russin, who also shares vocal responsibilities with guitarist Jamie Rhoden. They added guitarist Shane Moran in 2005 and have stayed intact ever since.

“We see all these other bands that constantly change members and replace people, but we’ve always loved just being friends,” Ben Russin said. “I think being friends is just more important.”

Nine years after humbly beginning with Blink-182 covers, Title Fight now frequently opens for big acts like Rise Against, A Day To Remember and New Found Glory. They joined the 2012 Vans Warped Tour, playing for thousands of people at a time in huge arenas, a far cry from the small town crowds they were used to.

“This past year we were doing really big support tours that put us out of our comfort zone,” Russin said. “Intimacy and connection with the fans is much more important.”

Title Fight is known for their dedicated fan base. If there was a Guinness Book World Record for stage dives during a show, they would probably set it, or at least be an honorable mention. An impressive mass of bodies often piles up in front of the stage from fans aspiring to grab the microphone to recite Title Fight’s lyrics. 

“I don’t even really know why I play music anymore. At this point its just that we’ve been listening and playing all our lives,” Ben Russin said, “It’s so gratifying ­— if anybody comes to see your music it’s just really cool.”

Printed on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 as: Title Fight progresses punk sound in release