Demanding and exploratory, the new album provides a more grounded sound as the band begins to find its groove.
With Touch, July Talk is calling bullshit on modern society. This isn’t by having a go or saying that they’re above it – in fact, they’re part of the problem. Instead, they hold up the mirror mercilessly, looking up the girl’s skirt, through the pornographer’s webcam, and into the consumerist’s mind.
Gigging furiously since their inception in 2012 and subsequent international rollout of their debut EP, 2016 marks the end of the first phase of the band’s life. Since the cobbled-together creative splurge that made the debut, the band has found a home on stage, and have created a new album that strays from the dialogic structure present on the first into the realms of social commentary to reflect both society and their new found identity as rough and ready rock ‘n’ rollers with a difference. Their shows were already very sexual, but that wasn’t what they wanted. They were exploiting the genders to challenge them, not to have them fulfilled by their eager audiences. Subsequently, with Touch they chose to move away from the simple back and forth into a duo of complementary criticism.
Opening track ‘Picturing Love’ doesn’t beat around the bush, portraying the cold and disconnected reality of technology and the tired addiction of porn that allows love to become lost in an impossible and unrealistic landscape. Not concealing their songs in metaphor, they punch them out with no holds barred and no topic insurmountable. ‘Beck + Call’ follows in a similar vein, exploring this technologically-advanced but socially-stunted world of Facebook and booty calls, reducing people to childhood chants and picking over daisy petals to decipher the feelings and actions of those who love. ‘Push + Pull’ sits in its rightful place on this album, remaining one of the band’s strongest tracks, while final song ‘Touch’ brings it all back to that simple concept of human connection in a world full of injustice and fear portrayed in standout ‘Jesus Said So.’ This latter track feels like intimate words being passed down from the band members themselves as opposed to more opportunistic stances, acting as the perfect denouement to what the album is (successfully) trying to achieve.
In some ways, Touch not as enjoyable a listen as their EP, although not for want of hidden agenda or quality. There are more than a few killer riffs and one hell of a catchy chorus in ‘Lola + Joseph,’ but the occasional rougher edge to Leah Fay’s voice, which will be an advantage at live gigs, can overpower songs that already have Peter Dreimanis’ heavy vocals to contend with. But, all in all, the well executed record is a detailed exploration of dilemmas that July Talk has had plenty of time to appreciate on the road. It’s the little things in life, like simple human contact, that, in our fast-paced and technological age, get carelessly overlooked – and oh, how they are making us pay for it.
Touch is out now via Sleepless Records