Finding a box to place Can’t Swim in is not easy. On their debut album, Fail You Again, you can hear the sneer of pop-punk, the emotion of Jimmy Eat World and the soul of The Wonder Years. It’s clear they are in that world but what part of it is truly their home is for you to decide.
No matter what decision you come to in that regard, I’m sure we can all agree on one thing. Fail You Again is a collection of emotional rock songs that will capture you from the second you hit play. As the meaty sound of ‘What’s Your Big Idea’ asks you what you’re running from it’s also clear that that emotion has an edge.
A big part of that comes from lead singer Chris LoPorto who is capable of bringing both mourning and spite. This comes to a head on ‘Stranger’ which slips from quiet and understated verses into an angry sing-along chorus that is begging to have rooms jumping up and down with it.
In fact, there are numerous standout moments from LoPorto, with ‘500000000’ being the best of the bunch. His words sound strained, as if every single one causes him pain, as he brings them into the world. It’s an emotion that draws you into the album and allows the listener to capture a smidgen of the feeling behind the words.
And those words aren’t always easy to listen to. Fail You Again feels like it comes from a real place and it’s not cheerful. It seems strange, therefore, to say that it’s a joy to listen to. Yet it is. The music is catchy and light, drifting from straight up rock and roll to introspective melody. Even as the lyrics take you to some dark places, you can’t help but enjoy the ride.
If you love punk rock with soul, you must be having a wonderful time at the moment. While it’s hard to push bands like Nervus, The Wonder Years, Balance & Composure and Can’t Swim into some cohesive scene, -they have as many differences as they do points in common – they all come from the same idea. They write emotional rock that isn’t afraid to talk about this stuff, and that is important. Can’t Swim’s debut album sits perfectly with those bands, and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.