When The Swellers released Good for Me – their fifth full-length and last album for Fueled By Ramen – there was a very mixed reaction. It was the type of record that could leave older fans feeling abandoned, with the band focusing more on writing slower, radio-ready rock songs rather than playing the fast and upbeat pop-punk that they had become known for. Unsurprisingly many longtime supporters were disappointed, but there were still some people, myself included, who believed that a more mature and dense record suited the band. This time around, you don’t need to worry about anything like that; Running Out of Places to Go is not a polarizing EP in the slightest. Both new and old fans should enjoy the five songs that combine the huge hooks of Good for Me and the speedy punk influences that The Swellers displayed earlier in their career.
The opener “Hands” lets the listener know what to expect for the rest of the EP, with the song displaying many of the elements that make this record enjoyable. It infectiously combines gang vocal “Whoa-oh”’s during the chorus, drummer Jonathan Diener’s driving beat, and some soft guitar interludes which help provide some substance and maturity underneath all the catchiness – the end result is a great start to the EP. “Let Me In” features very prominent, honest lyricism courtesy of vocalist Nick Diener, and the crunchy guitars and forceful drums mix well with his candid declarations of loneliness. The EP continues with “Bad For Me,” a title and song that will delight those who disliked the band’s most recent album. The track’s brisk pace, simple and fast power chords, and soaring vocals all make for a song that is vintage Swellers material.
While the first three tracks showcase The Swellers’ upbeat, pop-punk side more, the band does show that they can write some great rock songs too. “Making Waves” serves as a somewhat corny retort to any of the band’s detractors, with the lyrics focusing on the fact that they are “Making waves / And you’re not.” Despite the so-so message, it is a good track overall. The dynamics really enhance the experience, as do Diener’s smooth and passionate vocals at the end of the song. Album closer and title track “Running Out of Places to Go” continues to tone things down just a little, but it certainly doesn’t sacrifice quality in the process. The guitars are fuzzy and played with a soft distortion, and this complements the more reserved rhythm section well. Even though it sounds good throughout, the song doesn’t truly shine until its profound conclusion where it piles layers upon layers of vocals on top of the already fantastic musical backdrop.
The five tracks that comprise the EP are by no means something you’ve never heard done before by other bands or, for that matter, The Swellers. However, they are five songs that are not only done well, but are among the band’s strongest to date.