November 20, 2015

SWMRS - Drive North

Drive North is an energetic, angry yet light-hearted, surf-punk album produced by FIDLAR’s Zac Carper.

Though Drive North will be the first release under the name Swmrs, the four-piece surf rockers have been at it for over a decade. Original members Joey Armstrong and Cole Becker started the band in 2004 under various monikers. Current-day Swmrs gained attention for their “tribute” to Miley Cyrus and their recent tour with Wavves and Twin Peaks.

Drive North is an energetic, angry yet light-hearted, surf-punk album produced by FIDLAR’s Zac Carper. There is a certain lack of substance that is evident throughout the record.

The album’s tone is set with the introductory punk anthem “Harry Dean”, a fast-paced, high-energy plea to being bad boys. They lead with “I wanna be a rebel, I wanna be a badass”, cluing listeners in for what is to follow.

Straying slightly from their angry confusion, “BRB” and “Miss Yer Kiss” provide an angst-ridden lense to opening up hearts and missing former loves. The songs are emotional, poppy, and at times, shallow.

The upbeat, positive call out to youth still “figuring it out” feels like the turning point in Drive North. “Figuring it Out”, the album’s fifth song, reminds the young and confused that there is no rush in figuring out life. There is a clear shift from the anguish and wannabe rebellion from before. With all the chaos that is Swmrs, “Figuring It Out” reveals that somewhere through the confusion, they really are starting to figure it out.

As Drive North comes to a close, “Miley” the tribute to “the punk rock queen” Miley Cyrus makes its appearance. “Miley” is catchy, yet tedious and overdone. Name drops are hard to do in the first place, but the song failed to avoid the curse of revealing its dull, tiresome attempt at reaching a greater audience.

Drive North’s title track brings it to a close. Distortion, yelling and chants are abundant and give the album an angry, on-edge exit. They shout their hatred for Santa Monica Boulevard, Venice Beach, L.A. and more. Their dissent for these places and things is clear, but it feels incomplete.

Drive North is a rollercoaster of an album. It is emotional, rebellious, and at times reflective. There are lots of shifts, and while it is clear the boys are strong artists, they have a ways to go. The intention is clear, but the execution is rather muddy.

1. Harry Dean
2. BRB
3. Miss Yer Kiss
4. Turn Up
5. Figuring It Out
6. Ruining My Pretending
7. Uncool
8. Miley
9. Do You Have A Car
10. Hannah
11. Silver Bullet
12. Drive North

Drive North will be out on February 12 2016 on Uncool Records.

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