Tigers Jaw - I Won't Care How You Remember Me (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Tigers Jaw

I Won't Care How You Remember Me (2021)


Scranton's Tigers Jaw are a band I don't think I'll ever grow out of. It doesn't matter what they put out, it'll always appeal to the teenager in me and that person getting older who should probably be looking away from these nostalgic stories. Then again, should we? I think as much as people would want bands to grow and evolve, it's just warm and meaningful when a band like this can keep hitting those emotive notes in an organic, warm and non-Beach Slang-creepy way. And make no mistake, while it's not their best volume of work I Won't Care How You Remember Me is definitely one of their most accessible, endearing and fun records ever.

Let's get this out the way: it's cheesy, fuzzy and honestly, stuff you'd expect on Netflix rom-coms. HOWEVER, there's still the pop-punk sensibility of old and that catchy little edge that reminds us a lot about what labels like Run For Cover, Tiny Engines and Topshelf (to name a few) are about. Is the album a bit more mainstream and polished up under Hopeless Records? Sure, but just like so many bands they've signed from Sum 41, NFG, Taking Back Sunday, there's still a lot for diehards to take in and appreciate that this earnest essence of old is still alive and kicking.

From the opening self-titled track, it feels a lot like that acoustic-to-loud swell from "Never Saw It Coming" and this really sets the tone for someone who loved that era. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to adore from Charmer and Spin -- as with songs like "Hum" -- but you can tell off the cuff, they're going to marry both periods. And it works out pretty damn fine. There's a lot of synth and alt. rock sensibility as well chucked in, feeling like a mash-up of bands like Eisley, Say Anything and Slingshot Dakota, per tracks like "Cat's Cradle", "Hesitation", "New Detroit" and "Can't Wait Forever". The latter's my personal favourite and while I admit a few of them blend together, it's still got such a melodic, ear-wormer sheen with Will Yip's production. I've always found simplicity is his forte and it stands out a lot here.

Now, one complaint I do have, and I hope the band addresses it more is there are segments that feel like Tigers Jaw can tackle that shimmery, emo sound of the '80s. Doesn't matter if it's synth heavy or The Cure, I feel like there's some Electric Youth that vocalist Brianna Collins is holding back on. I really want her to cut loose more next time around because, no disrespect meant, I feel like the band has maxed out what Ben Walsh does when he leads the vocals. Granted, he does it well but this would be a cool change in gear and maybe surprise folks the way Pianos Become the Teeth, Touche Amore and Citizen did. This rings loud for me on songs like "Lemon Mouth" and "Heaven Apart" where there's some untapped potential to cross generations. And the great thing is, they don't take themselves too seriously so it doesn't even have to be tongue-in-cheek: Tigers Jaw know how to make art, even when it's product. Their promo photos and vids for this album alone had that aesthetic so it's a natural fit.

In closing, I must mention how much I dig the pickier tracks which do feel like the have more of that punk edge to them. "Commit" and "Anniversary" are the ones that come to mind most (with a little Captain We're Sinking musical tone -- their Pennsylvania buds as Ben filled in sometimes with them). Most of all, the latter -- which closes the record -- reminds us that Tigers Jaw really shines brightest with dual, clashing vocals, and some dissonance in their game. I didn't get that rough cut as much as I would have liked on this album, but other than that, this is a front-to-back gem with great replay value and anthemic shout-alongs I wish I could take in live. I saw them with Manchester Orchestra and Foxing some years ago, and hopefully I can catch them pulling these new songs out the magic hat when the world gets a bit safer for us all. The good thing is, these tracks really hit home with respect to family, life and love, in a positive way so in the meantime, they can help offer that blanket of comfort -- which is something Tigers Jaw has always done, and done well.