Like End of A Year/Self Defense Family, Old Gray and Touché Amoré, Glasgow’s Departures are a band melding more traditional indie rock sensibilities with pure hardcore aggression. And, now three albums into their career, they’ve nailed their sound on the soaring ‘Death Touches Us, From The Moment We Begin To Love’.
Of course, the album title is over-wrought and melodramatic, but it works perfectly with Departures’ at times achingly beautiful arrangements and frantic, pleading vocals. This is melodic hardcore, driven by a desire to punch you in the feels more than your face. And it succeeds a hundred times over.
In fact – and it’s not a comparison used lightly – but there are times ‘Death Touches Us…’ feels like the spiritual successor to Grade’s seminal ‘Under The Radar’. Frayed, taut and with that brilliant juxtaposition of indie-rock music and hardcore vocals delivered from right on the edge, it’s a winning combination; intense yet fragile, brittle yet punchy.
It’s how emotional music should be played. There’s a huge swell to opener ‘Sleepless’ that belies its oh-so-brief 1:40 run time, while the more direct ‘In Colour’ and ‘Death of Youth’ add driving urgency to the proceedings. They both still lack that traditional hardcore crunch; in fact they’re both remarkably textured, filled with peaks and troughs and some gorgeous chiming, shining guitar work. It means ‘Death Touches Us…’ is filled with intelligent music that flies in the face of convention at times, but which works perfectly.
Elsewhere, ‘Broken’ comes packed with a riff that stabs like a scalpel cutting with forensic precision. It’ll have you nodding and swaying along in next to no time such is its power, while the melancholy instrumental ‘Set Adrift’ serves as a wonderful centrepiece and clever break from the increasingly tense atmosphere.
Emotion will always play a huge part in music; the emotion of the songwriter and performers and how the listener emotionally reacts are cornerstones of music. The aforementioned bands are all adept at asking us to invest emotionally in new and clever ways, and it’s a trick Departures have successfully performed on ‘Death Touches Us…’ Smart, progressive and often at odds with itself musically and vocally, it’s a stylistic triumph that has enough substance to back-up the posturing.
’Death Touches Us, From The Moment We Begin To Love’ by Departures is released on July 29 on Holy Roar Records and No Sleep Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)