The Swellers - The Light Under Closed Doors (Cover Artwork)

The Swellers

The Swellers: The Light Under Closed DoorsThe Light Under Closed Doors (2013)
No Sleep Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: InaGreendaseInaGreendase
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"Should" should be a metaphor for the Swellers' career. The opener to the band's newest LP, The Light Under Closed Doors, "Should" starts off with vocalist/guitarist Nick Diener singing a simple, understated melody, but as the track moves along, it builds to a more compelling framework with pounding.
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"Should" should be a metaphor for the Swellers' career. The opener to the band's newest LP, The Light Under Closed Doors, "Should" starts off with vocalist/guitarist Nick Diener singing a simple, understated melody, but as the track moves along, it builds to a more compelling framework with pounding chorus transitions and guitars driving it at a steady mid-tempo.

But as most fans of the Flint, MI, punk band are aware, the Swellers haven't had quite the trajectory one might expect from a band so cleanly melding the influences of the EpiFat heyday and crowd-pleasing '90s alt-rock. It's not for lack of quality, as The Light Under Closed Doors shows: The material between has been plenty solid, but their full-length debut for No Sleep is their strongest effort since 2009's high watermark, Ups and Downsizing.

While the Swellers never necessarily wrote songs that dragged, either (witness 2011's four-minute fan-favorite "The Best I Ever Had"), The Light Under Closed Doors is noticeably compact. Its 10 tracks top out at just under a half-hour, making for their shortest LP since their first, 2004's blacklisted End of Discussion, and their comparative terseness works to the album's advantage. The Dieners took turns writing from each other's real-life situation (one in engagement, the other a fresh bachelor), and while their tropes don't seem out of the ordinary for them (introspection; disappointment; interpersonal relationships; homebase geographic references as metaphors), their diction, the dual perspectives and overall presentation feel fresh enough to carry the album well.

Musically, the Swellers don't overhaul their M.O. The album's a little devoid of the skatepunk-addled double-time the band have always been so adept at (save the refreshing "Becoming Self-Aware"), but the soaring hooks ("Great Lakes State" and, again, "Becoming Self-Aware") and pulsing beats are here in spades. Weezer have always been a pretty prevalent inspiration, with their Pinkerton-era guitar tone especially evident on cuts like "Got Social", "High/Low" and "Friends Again (We Can't Be)", while the fantastic "Designated Driver" is the heaviest song they've written, a sort of 2010s update to Alkaline Trio's "Private Eye".

As much as they've continued to provide highlights over their last few releases, the Swellers' latest feels more complete and compelling than they've sounded in some time. A metaphor for the potential that's always lied behind seemingly finished opportunities, one can only hope that The Light Under Closed Doors possibly sheds more on them.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Marchelo (February 16, 2014)

I feel like Mark-eh regarding Good for Me and Ups and Downsizing, I never really digged the 2009 release except for two or three songs but Good for Me seems to me like a really solid album, with all its mid-tempo songs or even ballads. I kinda feel like the guys didn't know exactly where they were heading to when they put out Ups and Downsizing, like if it was a transition album and they couldn't fix a solid sound. However, one would have expected for this new album to be a step forward into their pop sound, and, in fact, it actually is, but keeps their fresh-heavy sound and emotional lyrics that make them so remarkable as a band and, after you give it four or five plays, it grows rapid and solidly. It has a couple of really really really good songs and as a whole stands for itself. And since My Everst is still my favourite album of them (This Is My Everest is one of the greatest punk tunes I've heard so far in my life IMO), Become Self-Aware was, even at first glance, a relief, and is a pretty fucking good song. I mean, for instance, The Iron from Ups and Downsize sure is a fast song, but it's also a meaningless forgetatble effort, I'm sorry to say.

ak3punk (November 5, 2013)

Love it! They killed it at Fest, and this album rules.

telegraphrocks (November 1, 2013)

Never cared for The Swellers before, but the 3 songs I've heard from this were pretty damn good.
I'm gonna have to get me a copy, yo.

griffigr (October 31, 2013)

Great release. Not as mid-tempo as their last record, but I still find it to be living in the shadow of "Ups and Downsizing."

theonedownupstairs (October 30, 2013)

Great album. I was thinking the same with the Weezer comparisons, with a bit of Green shown in some of the guitar solos copying the melody.

mattbeall (October 30, 2013)

I always expect the next thing The Swellers do to be the one that goes too far into simple pop territory for me to enjoy, but so far, so good. Another very solid release. Good job, guys.

ivano (October 30, 2013)

Like this, though I wish there were more fast songs. "Becoming self aware" is my favourite right now.

LocalResidentFailure (October 30, 2013)

I agree with Mark-E, Good For Me is awesome from start to finish, it's oddly the only album I can get into.

Mark-eh (October 29, 2013)

Is it just me but I thought Good For Me was much better than Ups & Downsizing. I enjoyed U&D but Good For Me was a great record front to back, and I felt they really found their sound on that record.

So far so good with the new record!

bryne (October 29, 2013)

Really good.

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