Sometimes, artists can be a bit pretentious when they say that their next album will have a certain theme to it. Such was the case with My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade, which saw that band changing their style from whatever sort of “punk” label you put on it, to a straight-up, boring rock band (sorry, someone had to say it). However, when an album theme is done right, something glorious occurs: a great album is made. Having signed to Fueled By Ramen in 2009, The Swellers released the sleeper album of that year, in the form of Ups and Downsizing, a 39-minute thrill ride that gave a glimpse in to the everyday life of the band. While Ups and Downsizing was technically a pop punk album, a shift could be heard in the stylings of the band. Where once the band would play blistering skate punk, Ups and Downsizing also showed a softer side of the band, one that revealed the true genius of Nick and Jono Diener, in everything from their simple, yet meaningful lyrics, to the instrumentation found on the album.
How do you follow-up an album like that? And in what direction do you take the band? Surely, long-time fans want the fast, skate punk found on Beginning of the End Again and My Everest (the latter of which is an instant classic). Not so fast there. Good For Me, The Swellers’ fifth full length and second for Fueled By Ramen, is anything but another collection of fast songs. Instead, fans will hear a band maturing and really finding their stride, while still staying true to their roots.
Instead of songs like “The Flood,” and “Zombie Pirates From Outer Space,” (both excellent songs), fans are treated to songs such as “Runaways,” and “Parkview,” songs that now define the sound of The Swellers. “Runaways” kicks the album off with a bang, with the rhythm section of Anto Boros (bass) and Jono Diener (drums) paving the way. The song features one of the catchier choruses on the album, and Nick Diener sounds better than ever behind the mic as he belts out “So give it away / Make a mistake / Taking a risk for the first time / Riding the line / I'll make it easier for you, you to decide / Stay awake / Don't hit the brakes / There's no time to change our minds / Waiting for you, you to decide / Let's leave and be runaways tonight.” Where “Runaways” could be called a “typical” The Swellers song, “Parkview” sounds more like a tribute to Alkaline Trio. In fact, much of the album sounds like a mash-up of artists, such as the Foo Fighters (“Prime Meridian”). It’s in this song where Nick Diener really shines, as his vocals mesh extremely well with the melodies provided by the rest of the band.
For those looking more for The Swellers of old, fear not! Although the band has slowed the pace, they still know how to pick it up when needed, as evidenced by “Inside My Head” and lead single “The Best I Ever Had,” which is pouring with nostalgia. Perhaps the best part of the album is the honesty and simplicity of Nick Diener’s lyrics, which allow the listener to actually listen to the album and enjoy it, instead of having to constantly think about the lyrics. The biggest flaw of the album comes in the form of one song, “Better Things,” which isn’t really that bad of a song, it just has the misfortune of slowing down the album at the most inopportune moment. In all actuality, “Better Things” is a track that should be released as a single, with a catchy, personal chorus (“I’m on my way to better things. / I’ll wish you well / I’ll be just fine”) and could be the song that gains The Swellers some well-deserved attention.
Good For Me isn’t just good for The Swellers; it’s good for everyone. This is the best album of 1999, and it’s a very good album in 2011. As for the theme to the album? Nostalgia. And Good For Me will invoke that spirit in everyone who listens. Nick Diener puts it best: “If everyone else heard this, it wouldn’t be so sad,” and he’s right. The Swellers have crafted their finest album of their career thus far. One can only hope there’s much, much more to come.
2. Inside My Head
3. The Damage
5. The Best I Ever Had
6. Better Things
7. On The Line
8. Nothing More To Me
9. Prime Meridian
10. Warming Up
The Swellers are a punk quartet from Fenton, Michigan, formed in 2002. Their music is fast and melodic, drawing heavy influences from 1990s skate punk. The current lineup consists of Nick Diener (guitar & lead vocals), Jonathan Diener (drums & backing vocals), Ryan Collins (guitar) and Anto Boros (bass). They are signed to Fueled By Ramen.
The band played on the Vans Warped Tour in 2005 and had a short tour in Japan following the Japanese release of The Beginning of the End Again.... read more