The Casual Lean - (Swears) (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Casual Lean

(Swears) (2007)

Orange Peal

New Bedford, MA's the Casual Lean have been sitting on (Swears) for around two years, and that's sort of a pity as it's actually a pretty gimmick-free and unique indie rock record. Orange Peal Records picked up the tab on this one, and they may have redeemed themselves after all.

(Swears)' strength lies in the fact that it truly doesn't sound like any one other band. Maybe there's a little bit of Riot for Romance!-era No Knife (methodical bounciness/flow), Mission: Control!-era Burning Airlines (excited, near-baritone vocal), and any-era Dismemberment Plan (danciness/quirk). Still, the Casual Lean draw on these aspects lightly, in turn creating dynamic, catchy and refreshing songs.

The band are at their best when shuffling along at an energetic, juiced up clip, like opener "The Bride" and "Bye Bye Pilot" (the latter of which throws down seriously cool riffs that interchange between frantic fretboard action and lighter, nearly atmospheric ones), but in taking it down a notch they know what they're doing as well. The slower "Third Degree Burns" marches right in as Track 3 with some keyboards that border on cheesy, but the dam holds the flood on this one -- the synthesizer merely adds an offbeat vibe to the proceedings. "Cut the Kite" is another lower-paced offering, but its bass dropouts and jagged riffs will keep your ears alert and your head nodding all day, respectively or otherwise. "The Dance" clocks in at nearly five-and-a-half minutes and finds the Lean's vocalist challenging himself with a speedier flow over more relaxed instrumentation (until the chorus, which fully picks things up and gives the song a serious bang), but it somehow works.

It's hard to be fully wowed by (Swears), but it certainly comes close, as it'll retain your interest all the way with its dance-floor moods, inspired guitar work, and propulsive, aberrantly throaty vocal-led charge.