Teenage Swoon - No Hymns
Release Date: July 28, 2014
Record Label: Trends Die / Guard
When I listen to No Hymns, the debut EP by Austin, TX, post-hardcore group Teenage Swoon, I’m reminded of Maps for Travelers’ debut full-length from last year. Not necessarily sonically, but No Hymns is most certainly cut from the same cloth, as they say, as Change Your Name – meaning it’s a post-hardcore album that sounds out of time and out of place. Both of these albums should’ve been released twenty years ago on Dischord Records.
No Hymns is a dirty EP, rough, raw, and unpolished. The bass is turned up high, the vocals are turned down low, the guitars are distorted, and the drums are pummeling. Cody Hamm’s screams are guttural and tortured, when they appear, and his clean singing occasionally calls to mind that of an American Dennis Lyxzén. The songs sound a bit muddy, cluttered, but I’m convinced it’s an intentional choice – these songs wouldn’t work well sleek and glossy. They’re meant to be gritty.
And gritty they are. “Guthrie/Grow Up,” the opener, displays this immediately, ushering you in with an overdriven bass and a drum roll. It’s fast and discordant. “Fast” and “discordant” are pretty good words for most of the EP, actually. “Where I Live” is a bit different though; it’s a slower song, and it’s fuzzier and sludgier than the rest, seemingly plodding along until it collapses into its cacophonous final thirty seconds. It’s just as successful as the up-tempo songs on No Hymns, proving that Teenage Swoon can do more than just one style. The closing title track is a highlight and another slower track, but is slightly heavier than the others, sounding like a down-tempo At the Drive-In cut. Yeah, it’s pretty good. Between this and Change Your Name, I’m getting excited to see this type of hardcore seemingly coming back. And if it really is, then you can bet Teenage Swoon will be carrying the banner.