It’s been two years since Can’t Swim released their debut EP Death Deserves A Name, soon followed by their debut full length Fail You Again in 2017. Now, the New Jersey quartet are back with their sophomore full-length This Too Won’t Pass. Released through Pure Noise Records, the overall theme of the album appears to be a combination of pop-punk with a healthy dose of emo. There’s the weird theory that second albums are tricky ones, but we have high hopes that Can’t Swim are going to prove this wrong.
What Have We Done? opens the release in a big way with a thrashing, high energy pop-punk sound. Chris LoPorto’s clean vocals are melodic, but also at times suggest desperation with the lyric “What have we done? What have we become?” reflecting on there being no way back. The fast pace of this track, especially when the raw, screamed vocals come in, acts as a contrast, resulting in a sense of fear and the need for speed to change. With a title like My Queen we’re anticipating a lighter track with some lighter lyrical content, delivering on the former as the tempo slows. A repetitive, driving drum line is merged with swirling guitar lines, resulting in a pop-punk/emo genre mix-up that Can’t Swim excel in creating.
Sometimes You Meet The Right People At The Wrong Times is a winner, even just from the extremely relatable title. It’s angsty, fierce and finger pointing, with the energy to match. There’s something incredibly powerful about gang vocals, making this chorus a real punch-packed affair, especially with the drums and guitars attempting to steal your attention in whichever way possible. “All I have” is repeated in the midst of a rowdy guitar, ending this track in monumental style. Hell In A Handbasket is a little more upbeat musically, however the same can’t be said for the lyrical and vocal tone which is heavy and extremely dark. “In my travels, I have left a trail of breadcrumbs, hidden clues word within the lyrics that I wish were never true” is an example of LoPorto singing about the miseries that occur in life, and what will happen when it actually ends. We can envision this becoming a live-set favourite for the big, brashy singalongs.
Recently released as a single, Congratulations, Christopher Hodge has a nice little story behind it. The title is written in honour of their manager and longtime friend, whose wife was having a baby during the album’s release month. Aside from the title the track follows in the same heavy vein, with a mix of both clean and rough, gritty vocals working faultlessly alongside each other. We’re halfway through this release and we think Can’t Swim are on to a winner. Malicious 444 shows off a different side to the band, lyrically flowing with ease as we find ourselves singing along to “Noticing you, noticing me” without even realising. Musically this feels a lot more simple, albeit a little less exciting than previous tracks on the release. That’s not to say it’s not good, but we guess not every track can be as good as the others!
Not The Way It Was takes us on a musical rollercoaster, frantic and wild from the start. Everything has been upped a notch and we love it. The clean vocals here are beautifully melodic, and when layered during the winding chorus we discover a whole new musical dynamic from Can’t Swim. We’re hooked, every inch of our attention belongs to this track and we think it would be a perfect addition to their live show, as LoPorto sings of never giving up, making your own decisions and standing up for what you believe in: “Show them your weakness, the kingdom will fall. I’m here to tell them, you can’t kill us all.” As we reach the final stretch of the release, Amnesia 666 lures us into a false sense of security with gentle, emotive lyrics and a chilled out guitar line. This doesn’t last for long as the frantic chorus sets fireworks off, with pop-punk oozing through the pounding drums and rowdy guitar lines. It’s messy, powerful and the line “I sit and wonder about all those things you said. Were you my lover and did I love her?” as the track comes to a close swirls around your head, refusing to let you find the answer.
Penultimate track Daggers has a steady build-up, introducing riffy guitar lines and stuttering drum lines, hitting a musical peak before we even reach the chorus. In this track LoPorto sings of the memories of going back to your hometown and thinking back to the experience you and a past friend has had. It’s a crushing feeling, but one which is sadly relatable for many: “I blame the past for everything I am, I can’t hide it.” There’s a poppy undertone and it’s pretty different to what we’ve heard so far on the release, but we can’t fault Can’t Swim for that. Closing track Winter Of Cicada feels like the ballad (there’s an unwritten rule that every album needs to have at least one). We’re given a heavy dose of emotion during this track about a past relationship which still lingers; “I know I never treated you fair,” and the feelings of regret are prominent. Can’t Swim are being incredibly honest and open, which is probably why there’s a huge amount of power behind this track tugging at our heartstrings. Talk about ending on a high note!
Can’t Swim have successfully proved that second albums don’t need to be tricky, in fact, the sheer power behind this one both musically and lyrically shows off their growth since their previous releases. It’s exciting to listen to, taking you on a rollercoaster where you’re not quite sure what’s around the corner. We can’t wait to see what 2019 holds for Can’t Swim, and we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled that’s for sure.
Standout Tracks: Not The Way It Was, Winter Of Cicada
For Fans Of: Alkaline Trio, Jimmy Eat World, The Wonder Years
Written By: Nicola Craig