The Swayback - Forewarned (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Swayback

Forewarned (2006)

What Are Records?

We meet yet again, Swayback. When I got the Denver trio's last release (2004's The Swayback)to review, it sat in a pile for almost a year, but when I finally got around to it, I was rewarded with dark punk-influenced rock that was somehow heavy and dancey, with a spooky Joy Division-meets-Stooges feel. So I was excited when, roughly a year after that review, I got something new by the Swayback. It was only an EP, but I was excited nonetheless.

What we have here is hopefully more of a full album teaser than a stand-alone EP, because there's not a whole lot to Forewarned. It comes off more like a CD single than an EP, with one great song, two B-side quality tracks, and a remix of that one good song. Poops. The one good song happens to be the title track, and it proved instantly sing-able. It showcases their dancey-yet-dark formula with a pounding 4/4 beat, grooving bassline and sparse minor-key guitar line, and pumps it all up with a fuller production than anything on that previous release. William Murphy's guitars blast to full force in the chorus, with Eric Halborg's sassy vocals breaking out between shots of noise.

After that, however, it gets a little half-assed. "Earring in the Shag" starts out with a decent retro rock riff over Martijn Bloster banging that bell on his ride. Once again, the guitars stay minimal in the verses and go full force in the chorus, but the vocals just don't catch and the attitude gets a little forced with the bit of stutter and sing-speak goin' on. "Down to the Tracks" comes off like a home studio toss-off with acoustic power chords and a derivative bluesy vocal. I've never been a huge fan of the remix, and Ilk's take on "Forewarned" certainly doesn't change my opinion. It takes all the punch out of the original, sounding like someone put a pillow over my speakers. The programmed drumming is nothing to go crazy about, and it just drags the song out and nearly kills it for me. The farting synth sound that comes in around the five-and-a-half-minute mark made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it.

I heard a lot of potential in the Swayback's self-titled effort, but on this EP they just don't bring the goods. I can't seem to find anything on their uninformative website, MySpace, record label site, or bio to indicate that this is merely an album teaser, but I will hope that the song "Forewarned" will show up soon on a record that contains about ten more tracks of the same power.