Tigers Jaw's Relationship Woes Mature Nicely on 'I Won't Care How You Remember Me'
Published Mar 03, 2021While they haven't actually made a best-of compilation, Tigers Jaw arguably have one of the best "greatest hits" catalogues in their scene. From their 2008 self-titled record to 2017's Spin up until now, the Pennsylvanians have, over the course of 15 years, churned out easily more than an album's worth of consistently top-notch tunes. Whether it's due to quality or longevity, this is more than you can say about many of their modern emo peers.
For their sixth album, Tigers Jaw begin with one of the best songs they've ever written. Building from folksy acoustic verses into a big, powerful apex in a way that's reminiscent of early favourites "Plane vs. Tank vs. Submarine" and "Never Saw It Coming," the opening title track of I Won't Care How You Remember Me suggests that the band has found its peak. But while the album is introduced with a grand statement, it fails to return to that high point, even on the strength of songs like "Hesitation" and "Anniversary."
Now a more tightly knit group than ever, the four members of Tigers Jaw have funnelled their songwriting efforts into looking at relationships with truth and clarity. Here, love only lasts as long as it comes naturally. If honesty means things come crumbling down, then so be it. "A blue rose can't be mistaken," Ben Walsh sings in the high-powered heartbreak of "Hesitation," a song about realizing the person you love is pulling away. "If there was something I could do, it's not enough for you," sings Brianna Collins on "Cat's Cradle," a high-flying, synth-led power-pop tune about a flamed-out friendship. "Your body language tells me everything, because you won't tell me anything," Walsh gripes in "Body Language." "If you wanted to ask for forgiveness, then commit and say it," Collins prods in "Commit." On "Anniversary," they both conclude, "We all fall apart in the same way." These are common sentiments among anyone who's been in a failing or failed relationship — and it's well-trodden territory for Tigers Jaw — but age and maturity has given their songs the added quality of directness and a healthy amount of impatience. Get real or get going.
While the band lives in the present, I Won't Care also contains remnants of their past. Instrumentally, it's full of rhythmic staccatos and the distinct sound of Collins's electric organ, making the album sound a lot more like 2010's Two Worlds than you'd expect of a record made more than 10 years later by a mostly different group of people. (In 2013, three of the band's members left all at once.) "Cat's Cradle" is this album's answer to Spin's "June," both of them being uncharacteristically sunny and cheery tunes that suffer from questionable track sequencing. "Can't Wait Forever" is not only a callback to the chorus of an early Tigers Jaw song, "I Was Never Your Boyfriend," but it's also the latest installment in an obscure saga of friendly lyric-stealing involving them and fellow Scranton bands the Menzingers and Captain, We're Sinking.
Six albums in and two albums removed from their big member shakeup, it's fair to say that we know what Tigers Jaw are all about and what to expect from them. There wasn't a ton distinguishing Spin from 2014's Charmer, and there's even less separating I Won't Care from Spin. This record drags in its second half, as several of their records have now done, but there are some all-timers to add to their best-of playlist (along with their standalone single "Warn Me," a phenomenal song not included here) and the rest is enjoyable enough. Tigers Jaw make albums that are good, sometimes very good, but not quite great. (Hopeless)