Drug Church - Swell [EP] (Cover Artwork)

Drug Church

Swell [EP] (2015)

No Sleep Records

Does Patrick Kindlon ever sleep? Between a relentless touring schedule, writing music, releasing music, giving interviews, and answering questions on Tumblr, he never seems to rest. A majority of the time, his energy is spent on Self Defense Family, but every so often, the world is graced with a Drug Church offering, 2015 being one of those moments. The period between the release of Paul Walker, and the death of the actor by the same name, made for an eerie connection in the world of punk, especially as the band went semi-dormant shortly after. Moving on from the odd, coincidental timeframe, Drug Church awake with Swell, a five track EP produced by J. Robbins.

Contemplative statements and questions are abundant, to which the response is always an immediate, exhausted, “nothing works,” as Patrick Kindlon opens “But Does It Work?” with his familiar, borderline spoken word delivery. Outside of the early retorts, vocals are as close to traditional punk-singing as Kindlon gets on any of his projects.

The entire EP has a 90s punk and alt-rock vibe, even down to its Lifetime-eque cover picture and font. The bass is deep, guitars are clear, drums executed and recorded marvelously. Everything is complimentary, resulting in a most impressive production. Guitar work on “Mall SWAT” is a wave of opposing chugs and distorted winding, resulting in siren-like riffs when singing stops. “Work-Shy” is reminiscent of dreary Samiam instrumentals, jumping in and out of collective, intensified bites of fuzz and drum crashing, lulling back to sleep with heavy bass, all ending in a lone, definitive shout as the music stops, an exclamatory device used particularly well, given Patrick Kindlon’s declarative voice.

“Ghost Dad” is appropriately titled, given the lyrically resentful nature and haunting story telling, elongated “ooh-oohs” in the background are aptly included as the song finishes. The EP ends strong and emotive, as the revelation, “I care an unhealthy amount about the things I can’t at all help, I care a bit too much for those who care to stay out of touch,” cries out in "Zero Zero," an ode to over-thinking and the trap that is a busy brain, while body and sanity beg for relief. A brief, bass ridden interlude serves to calm and recollect before finding light at the end of the tunnel, and with that, all 16 minutes of Swell are over.

Using 90s elements of post-hardcore, punk, alt-rock, grunge, and emo, there is something for everyone to like. Drug Church deserve the hype and acclaim they so often receive. Releases may be intermittent, but when they arrive, we are rewarded with a gem like Swell.