The Swayback - The Swayback (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Swayback

The Swayback (2004)

Too Bad You're Beautiful

Like a fine wine, I have aged and fermented these releases that comprised my last few reviews. This, a 2004 album by the Swayback (with some tracks on it dating back to 2002), is the last of the old bunch, and either time has served it well, or I just should have listened to this earlier. Probably the later.

The Denver trio surprised me with their dark and unique style, their closest comparison being Joy Division. The vocals, shared by guitarist Eric Halborg and bassist Bill Murphy, span the spooky spectrum from Ian Curtis to Glenn Danzig. Yet the music tends to dance and bounce more often that either of those two groups, courtesy of drummer Martijn Bolster, without losing a sludgy, distorted feel akin to the Stooges.

The album is recorded quite simply, and it serves their sound well. In standout "Blanked Out Bruise Sounds," the feel switches from pounding constant eight notes in the guitar filling up all the musical space to a dancy section with a guitar lead getting no backup from any extra guitars dubbed in underneath, leaving some breathing room. Another favorite of mine is "You Follow You Swallow," which has a Hives-like riff for the breaks, some snarled vocals and a heavier almost metal chorus.

Sticking to their overall vibe, they still deliver surprises. "All Bad News" has the speed and snottiness of a DK song, and then they turn around on the next track "Tisk Tisk" and deliver a more electronic number containing Suicide-ish simplistic drum machine, watery synths and eerie vocals. It all fits into the vein they are going for, yet mixes things up.

Somehow familiar with a combination of agreeable elements, yet incomparable to any other current acts, the Swayback deliver on their debut full-length. They must be gaining quite a fanbase, as they have nabbed opening slots with bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Gang of Four and Hot Hot Heat, so I expect you'll be hearing more from these boys in the future.