The Swellers – Good For Me
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Record Label: Fueled By Ramen
You would've been forgiven if you had doubts about The Swellers signing to Fueled By Ramen in 2009. No one could blame for noticing that the Flint, Michigan, quartet stood out like a black smudge amongst all the neon, and fans were hoping that their punk edge wouldn't be compromised by pop gloss. Thankfully, their FBR debut, Ups and Downsizings, was anything but, as it was anchored by soaring guitar riffs and Nick Diener's raspy yet powerful vocals. Instead of being labeled as this or that, The Swellers took the initiative to prevent fans and critics from putting their music in a box. And their second release for Fueled By Ramen, Good For Me, is evidence of the band's continuous evolution.
Overall, Good For Me is a delicious slice of rock and roll that's big on nostalgia, ranging from aggressive alt-rock numbers to breezy pop-punk anthems. Basically, this is the best collection of songs the 90's never received. Opening track “Runaways” starts off with a beefy guitar riff that launches itself into an infectious song reminiscent of Allister and Home Grown. Jonathan Diener's work behind the kit is the backbone to the memorable hook of “Inside My Head,” while the heavy-hitting first single, “The Best I Ever Had,” uses aggressive melodies and driving guitar chords to capture the album's nostalgic theme perfectly.
The reason Good For Me excels is simply due to the fact that The Swellers aren't trying to write songs to fit in with the pop-punk revival or arena rock crowd. They've just focused on writing quality rock songs that anyone can rock out to. And for the most part, they achieved that goal (the fuzzy, Foo Fighter-esque guitar work on “On The Line” and the thundering “Nothing More To Me” instantly come to mind). The quartet also tries to slow it down a bit, which adds another great element to the record - “Better Things” and “Prime Meridian” are mid-tempo tracks that keep Good For Me from getting too one-note. And the band takes the style to the next level, as the find the perfect balance of pace and rock in the dreamy closer, “Warming Up” (which will evoke flashbacks to Weezer's Pinkerton.)
The glue that keeps Good For Me together is Nick Diener's personal yet inviting lyrics. These heartfelt, real life lyrics will be instantly relatable, as Diener touches on topics such as long-distance relationships, summer time adventures, and post-tour life – detailing nostalgic and youthful experiences much like Brian Fallon does with The Gaslight Anthem. In fact, Diener sums up Good For Me best on “Nothing More To Me” when he states, "Forget about the things they say, there's nothing more to me than what you see.” The Swellers are never going to be all style and flash, and they're not going to pander to one specific genre. Instead, they'll continue to release solid after solid record, and that is good for us.
Solid review -- I disagree that the slower songs kill the mood of the record. In a way, I think the sequencing worked well to fix that; first four tracks are speedy, the middle acousticish cut stops it dead-short, but keeps up the energy, and then it gets mid-tempo until the end.