As The Swellers’ new album Good For Me opens, one thing is immediately clear. The band has changed. The fast and furious skate-punk of Beginning of the End Again, My Everest, and Ups and Downsizing is for the most part gone, and replaced with a more polished rock sound, similar to Foo Fighters and 90s rock.
The middle of the album is chalk full of insanely catchy songs that capture the feel of summer jams perfectly. “The Damage” sounds like a little brother to the Foo Fighters’ hit “Best of You,” and has an equally catchy chorus. “Parkview” is sure to be a favorite among pop-punk purists, as it is probably the most pop-heavy of the songs on the album. This is followed by the midpoint of the album, and the most quintessential Swellers song. “The Best I Ever Had” isn’t their best song (that comes later), but it is by far the best representation of their sound, with memorable riffs, thunderous drums, and fervent vocal performances in an enormous chorus. While it seems to be a trend to write lyrics heavy on metaphors and with a driving story, only a few of the bands that attempt it are able to pull it off, i.e. The Wonder Years, Brand New, etc. Many fail miserably. The Swellers avoid this entirely by writing simple and sweet songs, where you don’t have to think to find the meaning, and you can just enjoy the song for what it is.
The album takes a bit of a stumble with “On the Line,” though it is instantly forgiven as it is followed by the awesome “Nothing More To Me,” which amazingly enough still isn’t the best song on the record, despite being one of the top 5 thus far this summer. This may however be the best chorus the band has written. “Forget about the things they say, there’s nothing more to me than what you see,” may come off the page as nothing to write home about, but the delivery and instrumental backing is stellar.
“Prime Meridian” is a good song, driven by Anto Boros’ bass line. The best lyric of the album is delivered in the chorus: “I’ll turn all my clocks back, I know it doesn’t work like that, but it’s good enough for me.” This segues into the album closer, and perhaps the best song this summer, “Warming Up,” which opens with a guitar line ripped straight from Weezer’s Pinkerton. Nick Diener’s vocal delivery is restrained through the verses, making the chorus that much more spectacular as he goes balls-out shouting “And I wanted to see it coming true because I’ll never be me without you,” leading into a solo delivered by Diener straight from the Rivers Cuomo playbook. The bridge is also intensely powerful, as Diener shouts the album’s title repeatedly. The song would be good without the power of the instrumentals, but it is the quality that makes the song as great as it is.
It seems this summer a lot of bands are ganging together to resurrect pop-punk, with The Wonder Years and Fireworks releasing amazing albums, and Transit promising one in early fall. However, it seems The Swellers are breaking away from the back and attempting to resuscitate the sounds of 90s emo/punk bands like Braid, American Football, and early Jimmy Eat World. It’s hard to compare the two styles and say which is best, though I will say this is my favorite of the albums released by TWY, Fireworks and The Swellers this summer.