Torche - Songs for Singles (Cover Artwork)


Songs for Singles (2010)

Hydra Head Records

This record comes in a sealed envelope. It's funny because it's on Hydra Head Records, who are one of the best labels around when it comes to the design and overall collectability of their LPs. (The five different vinyl colors available for this release serve as a fine example. I got white.) And anyone who ever collected comic books knows that once you break the seal, it ain't worth shit anymore. "You can't enjoy that, it's collectible!" So I did cringe a little when I got home and had to carefully destroy the package to my new $22 record. It's okay--down by the barcode and label information ("First Pressing 2010″), it's got a nice little message: "Hydra Head Records – Breaking hearts since 1995." Maybe the lipstick kisses inside will make you feel better--you're not alone.

Indeed you're not; the record opens with the mysteries of the universe in the form of the totally kick-ass "U.F.O.". The band has long abandoned lyric sheets in favor of audience interpretation, but the general message seems clear enough: space is cool, and life is awesome. Maybe it's a metaphor. It's quick and heavy and upbeat--in other words, it sounds like Torche--and will cause you to dream about being at a Torche concert on another planet. I am not kidding.

Another note about the packaging--the shrink wrap has a sticker on it with a quote from drummer Rick Smith (who completely pounds the crap out of every last beat on this record and has definitely turned up the "Animal" a few notches for this go-round): "It's a bunch of radio rock bullshit." He's obviously kidding around, but not completely--the middle of the album is comprised of these odd, fragmented, miniature "pop" songs that almost make sense ("Lay Low" is a 52-second approximation of a song). This is definitely Torche at their most playful...the band photo on the insert is blurry and features the guys dressed as farm animals as far as I can tell.

Side 1 closes with "Cast Into Unknown," which is so infectious and uplifting that it will make you miserable for the 23 hours and 58 minutes of the day you spend not listening to it. It's like being in love. The worst part is that I can't really tell what the first few words of the chorus are, so I keep singing fake words in my head as I go about my daily business. Agonizing.

Side 2 contains just two songs, both of which are much longer than any of the preceding six, but only "Face the Wall" really reminds you why they still hang with the rest of the sludge/doom/metal scene. Its atmospheric guitar and heavy, deliberate drumming will instantly grow your hair out to shoulder length and dye your T-shirt black. Unfortunately, they've done this sort of thing much better before. Thankfully, the longest song on the record, closer "Out Again," brings the album back to the realm of drawn-out, bouncy "sludge pop," Torche's wheelhouse. It's a great song that kind of goes nowhere, a suspended moment that synthesizes everything awesome about this band in a groove that could go on forever.

But it doesn't, and you're left wishing the record were longer. Did you just spend 22 bucks for as many minutes of music? Not in 2010! Ah, well. Flip the record and start it over again. Heartbreak never lasts too long.