Though not a sophomore slump, the return of Like Torches is a tamed beast in comparison to the band’s Victory debut. Love and Losses leans more on pop influence this time around, making for a more generic and safe-sounding record.
With their grit mostly absent, the new songs play it safe with bouncing melodies and high notes. The opening track, “The Guilt of Surviving,” takes the fine instrumental writing it’s been handed and directs it into overly familiar territory of early 2000s pop/punk. This isn’t the only time in which the band opt to downgrade themselves, but luckily, there are moments like “Get A Life” in which they are more accepting of their diverse influences (seen initially on Shelter). “Flying Blind” is another track that shows the band embracing more emotional sets, and the impression is a much stronger one as a result. If only they had done this throughout the record.
While Love and Losses is catchy in scattered sequences throughout, it’s lacking in originality. Despite being a step back from Shelter, the band still proves they have the ability to write here; it’s just a matter of what’s influencing them most at the time. Maybe on their next passing, we will hear a record brought upon by the enjoyment of, say, Trash Boat and The Dangerous Summer—now that sounds like a winning combination.