REVIEW: I WON’T CARE HOW YOU REMEMBER ME
After 8 years of a fluctuating band lineup—3 of the 5 members leaving during the recording of 2013’s Charmer which left a duo of Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh for 2017’s spin—Tigers Jaw finally returns as a complete band for I Won’t Care How You Remember Me. The addition of touring members Colin Gorman and Teddy Roberts to the official lineup revitalizes the band and creates a more holistic “rock band feel” upon listening. The album has a sense of self-certainty, with lyrics demanding the audience takes a hard look at themselves. While Tigers Jaw is considered a vanguard of emo and pop punk bands, this album shows the band’s evolution with their incorporation of synth guitar, adding a distinctly 80’s feel to their heavy emo/indie rock sound.
The title track ‘I Won’t Care How You Remember Me’ starts slow and acoustic as Walsh asserts the current status of the band and addresses the audience directly. Despite such variance in vibes and the composition of the group across their albums and EPs (over the course of 16 years as a band), each rendering is an earnest self-exhibition. Whether or not you preferred the band in its Charmer-era or with Adam McIlwee at the forefront, I Won’t Care How You Remember Me is Tigers Jaw at its current, honest iteration, and the title track serves to tell both the fans and the people in their lives that they’ve had enough of others’ perspectives of them.
‘Cat’s Cradle’ uses imagery of the familiar children's game to describe a tumultuous relationship “tangled from the start”. The track is poignant in its realization that sometimes there’s nothing more you can do to salvage a friendship or relationship, and after exhausting all efforts, leaving is ultimately the best choice to save yourself. This is just one of many difficult assertions Tigers Jaw makes throughout the album. Collins is deliberate when she sings she “won't make this any easier for you”.
Across multiple tracks, Walsh reckons with a lover pulling away. The lyrics to the single ‘Hesitation’ references the blue rose—a symbol of true, unrequited love and mystery—perfectly representing the track as the narrator senses his lover drifting away from him, becoming someone he doesn’t know anymore. In a track-by-track with Brooklyn Vegan, Walsh described the experience as “a sad sort of clarity”. ‘Body Language’ continues on theme as he watches his love retreat, seeding self-doubt. As Walsh cries “I'm wondering all the while, I saw you with me,” he expresses the familiar intrusive thoughts that burrow during the demise of a relationship, fixating on how the connection he perceived could die like this.
‘Never Wanted To’ returns heavily to the band’s emo roots, with a more sullen sound and layered guitar solos that amplify Walsh's desperation. He sings of feeling torn by a flood of thoughts and outside influences, claiming “there’s a river in my head, there's a reason I don’t think straight.”
The album demands self-reflection throughout, most obviously in ‘Commit’ and ‘Anniversary’. On an episode of Washed Up Emo Radio, Collins stated that ‘Commit’ is her first lyrical and instrumental collaboration with Walsh on a single track since ‘Hum’ from Charmer, only further proving the strength of their musical connection. The song looks through false pretenses created by their partner to challenge them and demand transparency and self-awareness. In ‘Anniversary’, Walsh ends the record by beating in “I wish you could see yourself burn away, breaking every mirror,” forcing the listener to consider the potential of their own self-destructive nature. The track ends with an acoustic guitar to break the album down to soft, bare bones just the way it began.
This is the first record to be released post-COVID that makes me truly crave live music. The album has an upbeat tone that makes me feel electric and desperate to be bouncing in a sweaty crowd. With lyrics that make you self-reflect and a sound that makes you want to jump, you’re left torn throughout listening between retreating into yourself and moving to the beat.