Sunday, February 14, 2016
Album Review :: SWMRS - Drive North
February 12 2016 (Uncool Records)
Words: Linn Branson
Are SWMRS one of the biggest bands in the making we have seen grace any stage? That may be arguable, but there's no denying that the Oakland punks possess an energy and dynamism that is a sheer joy to behold in comparison to the jaded wash of the Adeles and Sheerans.
The formerly named Emily’s Army have surprisingly been around for sometime before delivering this debut (as SWMRS) full-length. Produced by FIDLAR’s Zac Carper, the album's 12 tracks cut a fast-paced, loud and brash path from start to finish. Lead off ‘Harry Dean’ is infectiously moreish, filled with noisy riffs and capacious drums (from band co-founder Joey Armstrong, son of Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong) and the in-yer-face spirited snarl of vocalist/co-founder Cole Becker that slaps up like a tidal wave.
Becker's rallies over layers of guitar distortion to be found throughout, in part from Seb Mueller, with brother Max Becker laying out the heavy-duty bass-lines over 'Figuring It Out', Silver Bullet' and the forceful thrust of 'Ruining My Pretending'. This latter power pop number sees Max handle vocal duties, as he relates that, “It’s just a story, we all know the feeling / You don’t believe it / you’re ruining my pretending”.
There are a couple of oddballs, the 'Miley' punk ode to bad girl Miley Cyrus, and 'Miss Yer Kiss', which starts with a chorus of whistling and electronic sample distortion. The best, however, probably comes last, in the form of the album's title track. It's hard not to become fully caught up in this acidic diatribe of spewed distaste towards the city of Los Angeles, from Santa Monica Boulevard, to Venice Beach; get in the car and head the hell outta there, drive northwards, Cole ravages, ending with a final vomiting climax of “fuck you”.
As a whole, 'Drive North' is bold and unequivocally sticks two fingers up to those too cool to get it. If you can't stand it, get the hell out; otherwise, hang on to the seatbelt for a manic ride.