I’ll be completely honest, when I heard Title Fight would sign with SideOneDummy I pulled the infamous “What the fuck?” face while staring at my computer screen. Though Title Fight aren’t the heaviest band out there, they have more in common with bands like Polar Bear Club and Transit than they do with Flogging Molly and Fake Problems. But regardless, the signing was made and the band started recording what would become their SideOneDummy debut Shed and the subject of this review; I gotta say, I’m loving it.
The band wastes no time quickly tearing through the first track, “Coxton Yard,” a 1-minute-and-30-second punk rock song which prominently features the talents of both of Title Fight’s vocalists. Though these dudes aren’t the most schooled of voices, they sing it like they mean it and it works for Title Fight’s melodic take on modern hardcore punk. Musically, Title Fight take from a variety of influences reminiscent of early Saves The Day and/or perhaps a more punk oriented Polar Bear Club, and it’s awesome to hear that they definitely have the chops to write this music intelligently. Everyone in the band sounds perfectly comfortable on their instrument, and songs like “Crescent-Shape Depression” and “Shed” showcase the intricately woven bass and guitar that the foursome have stitched together with a precession not found in many bands today. That’s not to say that they hide behind their technical ability, far from it; tracks like “Flood of ’72” and “You Can’t Say That Kingston Doesn’t Love You” take a step back from the band’s impressive ear for melody and allow their equally apt rhythm section to confidently take the reigns.
Though often partnered with hardcore, Shed sees Title Fight more fit to be compared with the early post-hardcore scene. Maybe it’s just me, but I hear a whole lot of early Taking Back Sunday in their sound, maybe even some Quicksand. For the majority of the album, the band doesn’t tear through it the way a hardcore band would (though clocking in at just over 27 minutes, it does go by pretty fast) and instead they let the flawless push and pull of the album guide the listener through 12 memorable songs. The band closes the ordeal with easily two of the strongest tracks on the album: “Stab” and “GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).” The first of these two will more likely become a classic Title Fight track, while the latter’s dark, brooding nature, lead in by a beautifully haunting bass line, closes the album on a nostalgic note that will make you want to hit that repeat button again and again.
Though one of SideOneDummy’s oddest signings, Title Fight will likely become one of the label’s favorite acts as they certainly have for this particular reviewer. But Shed isn’t the album that I expected them to write any time soon. Perhaps I don’t know the band’s back history as well as I hoped, but this album sounds much wiser than the band’s years together. An incredible label debut by a young band that I hope will keep making music for a long, long time.