The fourth album you’d expect a jaded musician to smash out (and that is a good thing)
Torres has spent much of her career creating some superb rock anthems – placing her guitar and voice front and centre. This all changes for her new album ‘Silver Tongue’ which opts for a different approach to rock. ‘Silver Tongue’ is the most intricate and nuanced album from Torres to date and I want to get into details as to why.
Across much of the album, Torres places as much emphasis on synths and keyboard work as she does on her voice and guitar. The album is far more ethereal and layered than anything else she has done before. The guitars are still there but they aren’t crunchy loud but wailing walls instead – often drenched in keyboards. Take ‘Dressing America’ – a fantastic track. The guitars float around and rebound off the shiny organs and no single instrument takes the lead. Opener ‘Good Scare’ takes a similar approach but mixes lots of produced production into the blend. If an instrument does take the lead, often its the drum machines as they provide a lethargic and industrial sludge to the album.
‘Records of Your Tenderness’ is one of the most pronounced tracks to chart this change. Fuzzy guitars fizz around thick digital basslines and drum loops. It’s a move to mystical darkness rather than power chord stompers.
The second half of the album takes the synth-rock approach forward further with bigger and bolder tracks. It becomes more difficult to know where the synths end and the guitars begin and it is what gives the title track its eerie quality and makes it work so well. Rather weirdly it’s also what makes ‘Good Grief’ sound so weary. The track follows nearly the same riff as ‘Sprinter’, as earlier Torres track known for massive riffs and powerhouse vocals. ‘Good Grief’ could not be further from this. The song wants to chug and buckle under its own weight as it wearily stumbles forward. I do wonder if it’s a subtle jab at one of her most recognised tracks and the fact she was dropped by 4AD for not being ‘commercially viable’. I can only imagine the frustration at signing to a label that trades on being alternative but quickly finding out that being non-commercial has just as much commercialism at times. It isn’t just this track where Torres sounds utterly done. Many of the tracks carry a haunted quality and the mood honestly makes the album glow in the dark.
This brings me to my biggest realisation. ‘Silver Tongue’ is a much more complex and satisfying album than ‘Three Futures’. It takes a lot of what works in that album but really refines it. I personally struggled to deeply connect with that album but I don’t think Silver Tongue would sound or feel the way it does without Three futures happening first. That, in turn, has made me go back and appreciate Three Futures far more as I can audibly chart the progression and emotion in Torres’ work. In many ways ‘Silver Tongue’ feels like a lament and burning of previous works and a word of warning for those facing crossroads in the future.
I appreciate that this album review has gone a bit meta so I’ll address it now by focusing on the music. Whilst gurgling anarchy simmers with ‘Last Forest’, ”Dressing America’ and ‘Two of Everything’ – this is an album of letting go and purging. Come here for the messy kaleidoscope of dark rock eye-rolls and unsettling lullabies and you’ll love this album from the first listen. If you are looking for more three-chord rock anthems, you may not gel with it straight away but please do not overlook it. This is Torres at her best to date and it hopefully won’t go down as that difficult fan favourite album diehards refer to as a classic. I’m looking at you The Dreaming.