Review: Tigers Jaw, ‘Spin’
By now, everyone already knows that Tigers Jaw is down a couple of members, in what could have been catastrophic for the band, so I’ll skip that. Instead, I’ll focus on something everyone might not know yet: Spin could very well end up being Tigers Jaw’s finest release.
When they released “Guardian” as the album’s first single, I think a lot of fans were caught off guard (ha). While Tigers Jaw had never shied away from their powerpop influences, they really doubled down on Spin, and “Guardian” is a perfect showcase. Ben Walsh turns in a great vocal performance on the song too – he’s made some really impressive strides since Tigers Jaw and he’s never sounded better than he does on this record. Compare this record’s semi-acoustic “Bullet” to their debut’s semi-acoustic closer “Never Saw It Coming,” and it’s difficult to believe they’re even sung by the same person.
The other pre-release single, “June,” found Brianna Collins taking the vocal helm and sounding incredible. It’s nice to hear her as a more, well, vocal vocal presence on the record. “Hum” was one of the best cuts off Charmer, in no small part due to her captivating performance. Her other two vocal contributions, “Brass Ring” and “Same Stone,” are, unsurprisingly, two more highlights.
Perhaps as a result of Walsh and Collins being the record’s only two primary songwriters, Spin feels tighter than any previous Tigers Jaw album. While this does mean that fans of songs like the two-in-one “The Sun” or the uncharacteristically heavy “Static” will be disappointed, it also means that the record ends up as a better full album experience than any of their others. As I said, they’ve gone full-on powerpop, and what a direction it was for them. As “Guardian” and “June” demonstrated, these two clearly have an ear for melody; it’s hard to think of a bigger earworm in their entire catalog than “Guardian”’s hook – not to mention a more heartbreaking one. “I cannot be your guardian anymore” turns into “I cannot be your medicine anymore” by the chorus’ end; there’s two of the simplest central lines in a song I can remember, but they’re extremely poignant.
In that sense, the song recalls Jimmy Eat World’s Chase This Light; the album was unabashedly their most radio-friendly, but the bright music was juxtaposed with some of the band’s absolute most heartbreaking lyricism. I can see the initial reaction to Spin being similar to the initial reaction to Chase This Light, too. They’ll say Tigers Jaw’s never had this much pop before. But then they’ll realize that’s not such a bad thing.