The Swellers – Good for Me
Record Label: Fueled By Ramen
Release Date: June 14th, 2011
My experiences with the Swellers have been rather minimal, because this was a band I’ve heard plenty of buzz, but never really checked them out until last year. In 2011, I listened to their third record Good for Me (which is the record I’ll be reviewing), but not very much. It kind of passed me by, really. Then in the latter half of 2012, they released an EP entitled Running Out of Places to Go, which was mainly about their departure from Fueled By Ramen, and about how they’re on their own. It was a wonderful EP, and a very nice progression from Good for Me. I was always surprised that Flint, Michigan pop-punk band The Swellers were signed to FBR, but looking back, it was a good place for them, but if it made the band happy to leave, so be it. You can’t stop from doing what they wanted. Despite this being their second record on FBR, it’s a great record, nonetheless. The Swellers were always one of those bands that were more than just pop-punk to me; they had early 90s alternative and indie-rock influences as well to make for something very unique and interesting. This record is only about 35 minutes, but there’s a lot in here, but it doesn’t become “too much” at any point. This band knows what they’re doing, and manages to keep the listener interesting but keeps things fresh as well. The one downside to this record is that every song does tend to stay the same, and that’s the same problem I had with the last record by fellow pop-punk band Transit; they’re another band that I applaud for going out of the normal pop-punk boundaries. Despite that, 35 minutes is a great length, because as I mentioned, there’s a lot being thrown at you, the listener, but not too much, either. It’s a nice balance, and it works quite well. So, let’s dive into this record, and see why it’s good for me, shall we?
The record begins with “Runaways,” and this is a great track to start out with. I always say that opening tracks are very important, because they can either be a letdown, or make me really pumped for the whole record, and The Swellers have done a good job of putting a very strong track first. Then again, every track on here is extremely strong and well done. It starts off with a very strong guitar riff from vocalist/guitarist Nick Diener, and then his vocals kick in around 30 seconds in. I love his voice, in all honesty. He has a very unique voice, especially for the genre he’s in. The song goes into a rather poppy chorus, which is very catchy and memorable. In fact, there are a lot of memorable songs on this record. While there’s not too much in terms of instrumentation but a very nice guitar riff from Diener and his vocals, this song is a nice burst of pop-punk. This is also one of the more pop-punk tracks on here, too. The record does get much mellower, but this is one of the poppier tracks, too. Lyrically, I also love this track, but it’s not my favorite, either. Diener’s lyrics are fantastic, especially on second track “Inside My Head.” Now this is one of my favorite tracks on the record lyrically, vocally, and instrumentally. Everything is great on here, and it works quite well. This is one of the more memorable tracks, because it hits so powerfully. With that being said, remember what I said about a lot of the songs sounding the same? Well, they just kind of blend into one another, and the really great songs overshadow the ones that aren’t as great, to put it simply. Third track “The Damage” is one of these tracks. It’s a great track, but it doesn’t really do much for me. The lyrics are pretty interesting, though, especially this part in the chorus: “If I didn't know any better / I'd swear you were someone else.” These lyrics are one of the highlights of the record. Well, not these specifically, but the lyrics in general are a highlight. Diener knows how to write a great song, that’s for sure. Fifth track “The Best I Ever Had” is definitely one of these great songs. This is my favorite track on the record, hands down. I love it for the same reasons I enjoy “Inside My Head,” which is my other favorite track.
After “The Best I Ever Had,” we’re at the halfway point of the record, and it’s a great sign when the record is about halfway done, and it’s extremely strong and memorable. With that being said, next track “Better Things” is memorable right when it starts. It begins with an acoustic guitar riff, which is the first of its kind on this record. This is where their indie influences shine, and this track is another great one. There’s a really nice guitar solo in the middle of the song that doesn’t take away from it, but rather adds to it the song. As for the last half of the record, the album title “good for me” actually shows up in a couple of tracks, not just one, and they come in the form of “Prime Meridian” and “Warming Up,” which are the last two tracks. Eighth track “Nothing More to Me” is a great track, too, and in fact, it’s one of my favorite tracks on the record, but the last two tracks really bring the theme of the record home. The former is a rather slow track that does bring the indie side of the band out again, but this track is just about accepting the fact that you can’t turn back time, but it’s good enough for the writer to just pretend. The latter is about something totally different, actually; I love these last two tracks because the take the idea of “good for me,” and put two spins on them. The latter track is about “warming up” to someone in a new relationship and how that person is good for them. This is a great ending to the record, in all honesty.
This is a fantastic record, and pop-punk fans shouldn’t miss out on this; the band has expanded their sound greatly, and they continue this sound on their most recent EP Running Out of Places to Go as well, so if you enjoy that EP, check this record out. Or if you enjoy this record, check that EP out as well. Without a label or not, this band is a force to be reckoned with, that’s for sure.