When listening to Tigers Jaw’s newest release, it’s pretty obvious that some drastic changes have occurred since the group’s infancy. spin carries the same bright emo spirit that was first introduced with the release of Tigers Jaw’s self titled album, but with a noticeably softer tone; the vocal overlays used in many of spin’s tracks are reminiscent in tune of a more punk version of Oh Wonder’s material.
In 2013, when three of its five members left the group, fans thought Tigers Jaw was breaking up indefinitely, but Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins continued the group as a duo. spin is their second release since 2014’s Charmer, and is completely different from any of the band’s discography from before their reform. The album opens with “Follows,” a track that strikes a perfect balance between aggressive emo and weepy angst. Walsh’s voice is effortless and consistent as he sings, “I should have listened to you when you said / Nothing will make this easier,” simple lyrics that frame the easy listenability of the rest of the album. “Favorite,” the second track of the album, has a faster, bass powered beginning. The song expands on the same melancholy wistfulness that first appears in “Follows” and extends to the rest of the album.
One of the benefits of Tigers Jaw’s reform is the way it emphasizes the contrasts between Collins’s and Walsh’s voices. Like the albums that came before it, Walsh provides main vocals for some of spin’s tracks, while Collins heads some for others; the greatest differences come from the harmonies between their voices. In comparison to the albums from before, spin has more songs where Collins and Walsh have their voices overlaid, such as in “June” and “Escape Plan.” The layered effect is not only scintillating but also intoxicatingly difficult to stop listening to.
spin also makes good use of contrast between songs; “Bullet,” one of the more acoustic tracks on the album, is sandwiched between “Guardian” and “Brass Ring,” two tracks that are sonically distanced from the soft acoustics in between them. Walsh’s sweet tone and deeper octaves in “Bullet” draw out the intensity and smooth reach of Collins’s voice in “Brass Ring.” In “Bullet,” the lyrics are short and repetitive, and have a rhythm characteristic of nursery rhyme: “Bullet to a target / Bulls eye, watch it die / Bullet to a target / Heart crossed twice, caught in a lie.”
spin bridges the scary chasm that divides hard rock from tamer genres. There is intensity there — not only in the guitar or other instrumentals, but also in the lyrics themselves. Although the album has a definite disconnect from Billboard hits, it’s both a pleasant introduction to the emo/rock genre as a whole and a fresh addition to the new wave emo of the 21st century.