It may be early in the life of SWMRS, but the Bay Area outfit is still a band with pedigree; with members having shared stages with the likes of Rise Against and New Found Glory, the quartet are certainly not short on experience. ‘Drive North’ is a chance to get to know the group in a new capacity, however, and the record doesn’t shy away from making a strong impression
FIDLAR’s Zac Carper has clearly been a valuable asset as the album’s producer, and the influence of his own visceral outfit is on full display early on. ‘Harry Dean’ is just as powerful of an opener as ‘Cheap Beer’ was for FIDLAR’s own debut LP, and SWMRS don’t let up. Even when the pace is brought down on tracks like ‘Miss Yer Kiss’ it’s just as easy to get involved, and while ‘Harry Dean’ showed off an almost early Horrors, Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux-esque dark side, SWMRS have already shown off a litany of different sounds by the time ‘Turn Up’ fades out. It’s a great job done to keep things fresh without seeming erratic, and while ‘Figuring It Out’ damn near steals the show on ‘Drive North’, you still get the sense that it’s just the tip of the iceberg for what SWMRS are capable of.
‘Ruining My Pretending’ is a charming track to close out the first half of the record, and it’s a first half that absolutely flies by. The second half of the record, meanwhile, is well worth sticking around for; the effect-laden ‘Uncool’ and distinctly Weezer-esque ‘Miley’ come back-to-back as two further highlights while ‘Silver Bullet’ is a delightfully infectious track to take you into the album’s closing stages.
It’s a fast-paced title track to see ‘Drive North’ out; the garage-punk sound resurfacing as Cole Becker’s screams of “I hate Los Angeles” are left ringing in your ears. It wraps up a record you’d argue couldn’t have set SWMRS up much better if it tried, tracks like ‘Figuring It Out’ packing a real crossover potential similar to that which launched Kongos into international audiences through media like adverts and film trailers. The quartet’s set to storm the UK this year and it’ll be a treat to see how things go from there; America is already finding a soft spot for SWMRS and it’s unlikely that the UK will be any different.
‘Drive North’ by SWMRS is out now on Uncool Records.
Words by Antony Lusmore (@VilinskiKonjic)