Music Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: Can’t Swim – Thanks But No Thanks

Photo Credit: Paige Tate

Throughout their career, Can’t Swim have been primarily concerned with how their music connects and resonates with their listeners, rather than pursuing a particular genre or sound.

They certainly live up to this promise on their fourth full-length record, Thanks But No Thanks, which is a short but sweet blast of gravelly-voiced, emotional punk-rock. Much like their obvious influence The Menzingers, their pursuit of connection has led them to specialise in a gruff, melancholic brand of nostalgia.

Lyrically opener Nowhere Ohio sets a bleak Americana against the hope that lies in the punk scenes in ‘every town’ America. In the words of Lead singer Chris LoPorto “Nowhere, Ohio is a song I wrote while driving another band’s tour bus for a month. Crazy long overnight drives by myself where your thoughts become your worst enemy.

“I’ve spent the last decade of my life on tour and constantly in motion, the lyrics are a summary of those feelings. So many nights you don’t know how far you’ll make it on the drive or where you’ll be sleeping, which describes the title Nowhere, Ohio.”

While this track may seem like a wistful pop-punk track on its surface, there are definitely other influences at play. The tempo (and the music video!) hark back to 90’s skate-punk; and the reference to Alkaline Trio legend Matt Skiba in the lyrics further underlines this fact. There are also some subtle metalcore growls under the surface, showing the hidden depths to Can’t Swim’s material. 

Similarly, me vs me vs all of y’all is a pop-punk ode to the contrasting lives of being on tour and being at home, and how to live them both alongside each other, while also acknowledging that the struggle can lead to time passing you by. The pounding power-chords hammer this fact home, while LoPorto laments that the endless touring cycle “is not so glamorous.”

yer paradox I’m paradigm, is another blast of morose punk rock. Sad lyrics about humanity’s failure to cooperate, and a culture of everyone being out for themselves. This is underpinned by a cutting guitar solo, almost as though it’s trying to rip the system apart, and which goes to show the band’s disgust with the state of the world. Nevertheless, this is a very catchy song, and could certainly become a firm-favourite among the band’s live set.

I heard they found you face down inside your living room deviates from the album’s sound slightly, as it’s a somewhat slower, softer track. It also laments mental health struggles and using chemicals to cope. In this instance, it leads to the protagonist “putting their life at stake, feeling torture just to stay awake.” And ultimately succumbing to their demons. It’s a very poignant moment on the record, but further cements the album’s impact.

Eliminate picks the pace back up and follows in the old punk-rock tradition of scathing social commentary. However, rather than feeling like clichés, Can’t Swim feel like a crucial voice in this regard, and they definitely contribute to the debate.

In contrast I’ve never paid a toll on the garden state parkway, and even my anger has issues follow the same themes and sound as Nowhere Ohio: personal introspection on life in a band, underscored with crunchy guitar chords.

thx but no thx rounds out the album nicely, by maintaining the soft guitar parts seen in I heard they found you face down inside your living room. It’s an ode to saying goodbye, that’s open to interpretation: the goodbye in question could be being said to a lover, friend, situation or one’s self. However one chooses to take it, it’s an emotional end to an emotional album. 

All-in-all, this is an excellent slab of Americana punk-rock. While it doesn’t deviate too much from Can’t Swim’s tried-and-tested formula, it is certainly their strongest work to date. This album should see them win over lot of new fans in the coming months.


Standout Tracks: Nowhere Ohio, Yer paradox I’m paradigm, I heard they found you face down inside your living room

For Fans Of: The Menzingers, Gaslight Anthem, The Wonder years

Written by: Tom Forrester

Tags : Can't Swim