Review Summary: The Swellers manage to make one of the best records of 2009, and one of the best Pop-Punk records of the last few years.
I suppose you could call the Swellers a "New-Wave" of Pop-Punk bands. Instead of your blink-182's, and your Good Charlotte's, you have bands like The Swellers, and Fireworks taking over the reigns. Some may see this as a bad thing, I however, find it good to know that bands like this are changing the style of the genre a little bit, while sticking to the roots.
When The Swellers released there debut EP, "Beginning of the End Again" I was absolutely hooked on the song "Tunnel Vision", and still am. But other than that, I quickly forgot the band without giving them much consideration. Fast forward 2 years to 2007. While browsing the Sputnik Music news page, I came across an article about the Swellers new album, "My Everest". After which, I looked up some songs on Youtube, and came across what was to be a favorite band of mine for a time to come. "My Everest" was a great album, with plenty of great songs. After hearing "My Everest", I eagerly anticipated the new Swellers album. And believe me, it did not let down.
"Ups and Downsizing" kicks off with the energy filled song, "2009". An ode to all that has happened in said year, and in one track, sets the tempo for the entire album. The lyrics are top notch, as Nick Diener sings "I'll never be the same again, but I wouldn't re-write anything". The next track, and probably best known off the album, is "Fire Away". This is one of the best tracks on the entire record, and the chorus is one of the best I've ever heard, as Nick sings "Abandon ship. Fend for yourself. You've got, that sinking feeling, and nothing else". As simplistic as it seems, the delivery is what counts. And boy, do the Swellers know how to deliver. The following track, "Sleeper", is actually my least favorite off the album. I don't really know what it is, but I just can't get into the song that much. The lyrics are still great though. The next song, and first released off the album, is "Welcome Back Riders". In my opinion, the verses are the highlight of this song. I never cared too much for the chorus. But another really good song, none the less.
The next few songs change up the tempo a bit, as "Feet First" starts off with Nick singing, and clean guitar. The lyrics continue to blow me away. You can feel that the band really put there hearts into this record. And after the clean guitar, it turns into a slower paced Punk-Rock song. "Do You Feel Better Yet?" is the next track, and an interesting one at that. The verses seem like another Pop-Punk song, but the chorus' are just acoustic guitar, with Nick singing "Do you, feel, better yet?" in a soft voice. A really cool change of tempo for the chorus.
Speaking of guitar, I think it's a good time to mention how well the guitar parts fit in on this album. The guitar is never really that intricate, but the simplicity of it compliments the music in a huge way.
The next 3 songs, "Ups and Downsizing", "The Iron", and "Watch It Go" are all standard Pop-Punk songs, and the lyrics really pull these ones together. Other than that, they're just what you've come to expect of the album.
"Stars" is the acoustic ballad track off the album. And usually, I don't like songs like these, but they somehow managed to make this one memorable. The yell of "This one's for you!" right before the guitar solo is the high point of the song. And the guitar solo is great. Again, not too intricate, but it doesn't have to be.
The last song on the album, and my absolute favorite, is "Dirt". Sort of a will, in a song. In which Nick sings, "No, spreading of my ashes, spread all my things to, the deserving ones". And at the end when Nick is singing "Inside of your heart always" with the "Woah's" in the background just amazes me. To me, THAT is the perfect Pop-Punk song.
In conclusion, The Swellers manage to make one of the best records of 2009, and one of the best Pop-Punk records of the last few years. Only one question: How are they gonna follow THAT up?