Album of the Week

Swearin’s second LP Surfing Strange comes just one year after their self-titled debut and the record is again bolstered by an ever-imminent guitar roar and powerhouse drumming, but the band doesn’t get too distracted by thrashing around. The album is richly melodic and has its fair share of stripped-back vulnerability. Allison Crutchfield (the most prominent of the band’s three lead vocalists) in particular doesn’t hesitate to let a saccharine thrill come to the forefront.

Crutchfield’s ‘Dust In The Gold Sack’ and ‘Parts Of Speech’ are pop-propelled grungey guitar episodes, while guitarist Kyle Gilbride’s ‘Watered Down’ is a foray into loud-quiet-loud power-pop and bassist Keith Spencer takes over for ‘Melanoma’, a distortion-drenched moment of fragility.

Swearin’ are definitely adept tunesmiths but they’re not bothered about guarding or illuminating their incisive hooks. On ‘Mermaid’ the guitars adopt a wall-of-sound chug for a couple of minutes before the vocals perk up, but despite this elongated opening it doesn’t register as a meandering jam.

Crutchfield’s voice has a natural nice-gal tint, yet the quieter ‘Loretta’s Flowers’ avoids sounding too sentimental and on the rollicking ‘Young’ she refrains from contriving for toughness. Meanwhile, even if Gilbride slips into a familiar vocal guise (invoking Doug Martsch or a young Wayne Coyne) on ‘Echo Locate’ and ‘Unwanted Place’, he assumes this slacker-whine with forceful integrity.

Surfing Strange could meld into a 34-minute pile of associated thoughts and energy, but nothing sounds underdone and the melodies will stick in your head.

4/5 stars


BY AUGUSTUS WELBY

Surfing Strangeis out now throughWichita Recordings/[PIAS].

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