Flint’s The Swellers are back with a new LP, “The Light Under Closed Doors” (No Sleep Records) due out Tuesday Oct. 29.
The Swellers are: Nick Diener (guitar, vocals), Jonathan Diener (drums), Anto Boros (bass) and Ryan Collins (drums).
This is The Swellers’ strongest album to date, no doubt.
After multiple full-length albums and a few EPs in their decade-plus existence, the band has their instrumental style down pat by now with this 10-song LP. The guitars are loud, melodic and in-your-face (opener “Should” comes to mind). The bass is smooth and, along with the drums, bring a powerful, rhythmic and memorable one-two punch. Kicked into overdrive mode, the drums toward the end of “Designated Driver” give the song a final bright flash before burning out just a few seconds later. The melodies on this LP are super-catchy and a have pop sheen but not too glossy. Every song on this LP has some catchy hooks, some catchier than others.
Although the musicianship (topnotch as it is) is pretty standard for pop punk/rock, the band took a different approach to make themselves stand out.
The lyrical focus this time around pays off in spades as they’re the best the band has ever put on record.
Opener “Should” starts with a defeated mindset about a deteriorating relationship that ultimately comes to an end (“I gave up/I know things won’t get better” and “I went home/You won’t wait forever/I’ll go first/We shouldn’t be together”). Later on, though, the protagonist seems to come to terms with this and move on (“Now I see the light under closed doors/I’m better now”).
Diener’s lyrics are really relatable, understandable and, best of all, easy to sing (or shout) along to. Throughout the record, he’s done his best work at condensing his thoughts into as few words as possible while at the same time making them easy to sing along to. That’s quite a feat and an excellent one at that.
“Got Social” is a favorite for its lyrics too. Again, relatability is the reason why. “You’re blowin’ smoke in my face, again/I know you’ll never quit/You got social/and I don’t like it” he sings, with some clever wordplay. The literal use of blowing smoke (ie smoking at social gatherings, etc) and the idea of being social as a smokescreen to hide shortcomings (or something similar) is really shrewd. Well played, Mr. Diener. Also, the resentment toward someone else for acting social when the protagonist is not is interesting too.
More on the topic of social interaction (or lack thereof), “High/Low” tells the story of not being able to shake that uneasy always-awkward feeling, either by yourself or around others. “I’m locked in my room/and I’m not feeling human” and “Maybe in two hundred years time/things will finally feel right” Diener belts out.
Despite the ups and downs of daily life Diener sings about throughout the album with an assured confidence, there’s always an upside as album closer “Call It a Night” demonstrates. “Regress and rewind/Find the peace of mind/When it all comes to light/We can call it a night/But some of this will stay/When the feeling fades away/When it all comes to light/We can call it a night” are just some of the lyrics. There are even a couple references to their previous full-length “Good for Me”. Some of this anxiety Diener sings about on this LP might never go away as long as he’s alive (like he sings on “High/Low”) but making the best of situations (finding the light under closed doors) by making music, like Diener and co. choose to do, is a viable alternative.
In short, the lyrics here are some of the best, most relatable, precise and shout-worthy I’ve heard in a long time. Also, being a native of Michigan, how could I forget to talk about “Great Lakes State”. Glad the band is showing pride in its home state.