Songs For Singles
(Hydra Head Records)
Admittedly, this eight-song EP came out in September. But I'm boiling down the tardiness of this review as follows: I just bought a copy, it hadn't been properly reviewed, and my colleague Erica K. Landau over at County Grind just named it number three on Broward-Palm Beach's top ten local albums of 2010.
For my part, I'd like to open with the fact that this is Torche's first charting record and it is the band's poppiest work to date.
This EP is the second effort after Juan Montoya's departure. The remaining three-piece of Steve Brooks (guitar/vocals), Jonathan Nuñez (bass), and Ricky Smith (drums) works well here. But many of my record-reviewing peers too easily dismiss the first six tracks of the album in relation to the closing two.
Here's the problem: The first six songs are short bursts of stream-of-consciousness lyricism and metal that exists underneath a layer of saccharine pop that might not appeal to hardcore metal fans unfamiliar with Torche's entire existence.
If you were to cut out the last two tracks, press 'em onto a 33⅓ rpm single and tell me it's a new Floor record, I'd believe you. And I mean that in a good way: It's the first thing that crossed my mind while listening to the chugging of those tracks. I was actually kind of excited by the prospect that they might be Floor tracks done on the Torche platform. But that's just fanboy speculation.
At 27 minutes, this is an accessible record for listeners old and new. There are guitar bombs in there too -- fuzzy moments underscored by Brooks' echo-y vocals, sweet stops, happy (yes, happy) riffage, and enough feedback to make it sound like a bona fide Torche album. Detractors might think of them going in a new direction musically. But I see this as a natural turn of events.
All is well in the kingdom of pop-metal.