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Album Review: Torche Enter A More Mature Phase with Admission

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Torche excel at frustrating expectations. Sometimes they blow peoples’ minds like on the cover of their latest record, sometimes they dick around. The Miami-based four-piece could be the greatest alt-rock or sludge band in the world. Instead, they combine the two into their own unique noise. Their chimerical nature means their sound constantly shifts. Are they gonna hit the listener with a giant pop hook, or drop into a slow swamp crawl? That’s part of what makes them such an exciting band to listen to. It also makes every new album an undiscovered country.

With long-time bassist Jonathan Nunez switching to guitar and incoming bassist Eric Hernandez, their fifth full-length had the potential to go a few different ways. They could craft a heavy pop masterpiece like Harmonicraft or plunge into the grunge like on previous album Restarter. Of course, either of those two approaches would be way too predictable. Admission may actually be their most straight-up metal release to date — except when it isn’t.

“From Here” almost feels like something Matt Pike would unleash on the world. “What Was” swings like a wrecking ball. “Infierno” drags an amplifier stack across the floor for four minutes. On the flip side, they also lean into the shoegaze section of their record collection. The title track (probably the strongest song on here) takes Failure to the gym, beefing up their spacey fuzz with a galloping beat and melancholy guitar swirls. Elsewhere, “Extremes of Consciousness” and “Changes Come” tap into that sweet spot where grunge meets power pop.

The sequencing curveballs come much less frequently than on previous efforts, making this their most straightforward blast. They don’t throw in any big changes like “Walk It Off.” Although Torche’s genre identity remains fluid, Admission lacks that feeling of infinite possibilities. That does mean it feels more coherent as a full piece. Combined with Steve Brooks’ more introspective lyrics, that makes this a mature work from a band that, at times, has reveled in silliness. Fifteen years into an impressive career, that evolution isn’t mind-blowing, but it is welcome.

Torche’s Admission drops July 12. You can listen to “Admission” here and pre-order the album here (although most of the sweet splattered vinyl is long gone).

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