As much as its music pervaded my high school existence, I never attended Warped Tour — the sneaker-sponsored touring festival that has dipped into rap, Top 40 pop music and metalcore, but for the most part has stuck to its skater-friendly punk roots. On a recent mid-week day-off in late July, however, I was extremely tempted to hitch a ride to Merriweather Post Pavillion for the largely teenage-populated festival to see one band: Title Fight.
Title Fight hits the sweet spot between the heartfelt, road-trip-proven pop-punk of Jawbreaker's Dear You and the melodic post-hardcore of Hot Water Music. And while punk has often taken this approach in recent years, the four Pennsylvanian dudes behind Title Fight have become more adept at unexpected tempo changes, intricate picking patterns and getting the most of out of a catchy hook. "Sympathy," a rager parked right in the middle of the band's second full-length, Floral Green, demonstrates this impressive evolution.
Barreling out out of a chaotic swagger, "Sympathy" almost begins mid-phrase. It may not be the single in a record full of hoarsely-shouted anthems, but I'm especially drawn to the chorus. The verse-chorus transition is surprisingly seamless, pulling from an expected source of pop song structure: Sonic Youth. It's almost perverse, really, but everything from the disjointed chord progression to the open-endedness of the closing phrase comes from Daydream Nation or Goo. Sonic Youth knows its pop music better than most avant-rockers, but to hear it in a pop-punk context shows, at the very least, that Title Fight is keeping its ears open.
Floral Green comes out Sept. 18 on Side One Dummy.