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Album Review

SWMRS – Drive North


On debut album ‘Drive North’, SWMRS take back control.

Label: Uncool Records
Released: 12th February 2016

Rating: ★★★★

SWMRS are world-weary. Sure, the four-piece have an average age that means buying alcohol legally in their native California still feels new but they, in one form or another, have been releasing music for eight years now. They’ve played the game, they’ve seen both highs and lows and they know what they want. On debut album ‘Drive North’, SWMRS take back control.

There’s a history behind the record but from the opening chime of ‘Harry Dean’, it’s meaningless. The band got out with their lust for life intact and ‘Drive North’ is doused in their multicoloured excitement. From the solid gold West Coast jam of ‘BRB’ to ‘Miss Yer Kiss’s wistful reflection, the band cut sunshine with shadows. It’s considered, fully-formed and oh-so-fun.

The bolshie writing’s-on-the-wall anthems of ‘Figuring It Out’ and ‘Uncool’ see the band leading the charge in being ok with not being ok while the title track is urgent encouragement to escape whatever’s holding you down. ‘Drive North’ sees the band figuring it out in real time. Big unifying statements are underpinned with acute, personal admissions giving the record a grand intimacy.

From the wrecking ball destruction of ‘Miley’ through the desire to burn it all down on ‘Silver Bullet’ until the album’s closing moments that see the band tear apart their surroundings, snarling fuck you to anyone still standing in their way, SWMRS are fighting for their own space. They’ve seen the world and they know what they want to do in it.

“You bring the bleach, I’ll bring the chlorine,” they offer on ‘Miley’. Together, we can start again with a blank canvas. SWMRS have used their new slate as a declaration of self, a middle fingered salute to anyone who tried to push them down and as an invitation for you join them. ‘Drive North’ is for turning up, but SWMRS aren’t a band you’ll turn down. Ali Shutler