ALBUM REVIEW: Swervedriver’s “Future Ruins”

ARTIST: Swervedriver + ALBUM: Future Ruins + LABEL: Dangerbird Records(US)/Rock Action Records (UK/Europe)+ RELEASE DATE: JAN 25, 2019

Following up 2015’s I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, British shoegazer’s Swervedriver return with Future Ruins. Across these 10 songs, the band further cements their legacy as one of the most underrated bands of the 1990’s. Of course, for many the decade of the 1990’s is identified through the dirty lenses of nostalgia, but Swervedriver never had a sound that was pinned to the trends of the era. In fact, the band’s own uniqueness is probably what kept them from ever taking off into the mainstream in the first place. Not that they, or their die-hard fanbase, ever gave a shit.

“Mary Winter” opens the album with a banging guitar riff and drum roll that soon melds into the melodic swoon you’ve long identified with the band. Right from the start, you get the feeling this is going to be a great record. As Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge’s guitars weave in and out together over Mikey Jones’s drums, it’s hard not to either reach for your headphones or turn up the volume. Tracks like “The Lonely Crowd Fades in the Air,” “Theascending,” “Golden Remedy,” and “Drone Lover” follow this template to great effect. While this is unmistakably Swervedriver, none of these tracks feel like paint-by-numbers, but uncannily feel like they’re pulled from the same source of inspiration that produced 1993’s Mezcal Head or 1995’s Ejector Seat Reservation. “Spiked Flower” may be the pop song that finds its way to audiences outside the fanbase. It has an almost garage rock vibe that rubs gently against its catchy vocal melody. Likewise, “Good Times Are So Hard To Follow” might be the song of the summer, hiding deep in the album just waiting to jump up and steal your girlfriend.

For my ears, it’s the mid-tempo tracks that elevate the album as a whole. The title track, “Everybody’s Going Somewhere and No-One’s Going Anywhere,” and album closer “Radio Silent” show how the band has matured as musicians and songwriters. If you’re familiar with their previous output this may be a bold statement, but these are deceptively complicated songs executed with a minimal aesthetic. Put another way, these songs are perfect examples of how dynamics aren’t dependent on the loud-quiet-loud formula, but are more firmly rooted in anticipation and tension.

Future Ruins will both satisfy the bands longtime fans and serve as a great starting point for those new to the game. It’s hard not to envy those just getting into the band. The joy of hearing those early albums for the first time is hard to match. But, Future Ruins comes close to replicating that experience. Be sure to catch the band on tour this Spring with Failure (dates below).

– J. Kevin Lynch

Broken Hands

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