Review Summary: Fun jams from Canada's capital
New Swears know how to have a good time. A quick glance at the cover of their aptly titled album, ‘Junkfood Forever, Bedtime Whenever’ all but confirms this: Beer, pizza, an assortment of sweets, smokes and drugs (and upon closer inspection a DVD copy of MVP 2: Most Vertical Primate). Needless to say, New Swears are a band that likes to party and doesn’t take themselves too seriously. And there are always occasions for listening to such bands. Sometimes it is nice to just turn off your brain for a while, have a few beers, be with friends and listen to some good, fun music. And New Swears have crafted just an album for the occasion; ‘Junkfood Forever, Bedtime Whenever’, the Ottawa foursome’s sophomore release, is a simple, fun, don’t-think-too-hard kind of album in the best kind of way.
For a party album “Junkfood Forever, Bedtime Whenever” is surprisingly easy going. Not in the relaxing sense, but there’s a loose, care-free essence to it. The songs are hook-laden and mostly upbeat; there’s bouncy riffs and gang vocals, some “woooos” with a few hand claps thrown in for good measure. The band manages to take these tired ingredients and keep them fresh and interesting. While their sound could be described generally as power pop with a punk ethos, they keep it fairly diverse by adding elements of county and surf rock into the mix. There is not really a stale moment on the record. Even the parody song ‘Legalize Freedom’, with its chugging riffs and forced vocals sung from a trucker’s perspective has its merits, if not musically than at least comically. ‘Sweet Donna’ feels almost like a caricature of a country song, lyrical tropes and all, but is just so good it works. ‘TV Shows’, with its searing guitar and big chorus is one of the more energized tracks and a sure highlight.
Beneath the album’s jocular veneer of partying, drugs and girls lay some sobering concerns regarding such a lifestyle. ‘Stay Gold’ is an anthem of sorts, one which both laments and glamourizes this kind of living. Lyrics like “Another night gone, head buried in the porcelain throne…when we will grow up, I’m 23 and I’m all ***ed up” indicate an awareness yet an immobility to change, while posing questions like “Are we just young adults with a lust for drugs and a guest list spot into the 27 club"”. Amidst the fun jams is a rare somber number in ‘Candy Land’, musically the most downbeat and lyrically the most self-reflective of the bunch. In it uncertainty, regrets and growing up (or lack thereof) are brought to light but again casually brushed off, with lines such as “Last night’s mistakes weigh heavy on my mind, light up my cigarette and I’ll act like I’m fine” while album closer ‘No Fun’ declares “I’d rather be ***ed than be myself”. Whether these are genuine concerns or part of the bands shtick (or both) I don’t know, but how relatable it was for me kind of struck a chord. But this review appears to be taking a slightly depressing turn and that cannot be because this record is too fun for that. So I’m just gonna turn it up, finish this beer and let my worries and reservations take a backseat for now.