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Review: Swervedriver 'I Wasn't Born to Lose You'

Swervedriver - I Wasn't Born to Lose You
Reviewed by Kelli Redding

Quick Review: Although I Wasn't Born to Lose You may seem pale in comparison to Swervedriver's classic material, it is what can be expected from a band that has not recorded together in nearly two decades. The album is full of rich sounds and deep lyricism that will satisfy any fan of guitar-driven indie rock - and certainly, anyone with a nostalgia for the comfort of familiar 90s alternative.

Full Review: Droning guitar tones, walls of layered sound, major sound distortion, and dreamy vocals: a major shoegaze revival has no doubt taken place over the course of the past year. My Bloody Valentine released their first album since 1991. Slowdive reunited for a world tour and are writing new material. Ride recently announced they are back together once more. And for Oxford band Swervedriver, the time must sound right; although this band is one that may have always stood in the shadows of the three aforementioned alt-rock giants, in no way were they deprived of their own sense of glory and loyal fan-following. Swervedriver was certainly one of the highlights set forth by legendary indie label Creation Records in the early 90s; complete with their original members and signature noise-rock style, Swervedriver is back with their first new album in eighteen years, entitled I Wasn’t Born to Lose You.

The album opener, ‘Autodidact’, sets the tone for the album in hazy guitar tones that seem all too familiar, accompanied by introspective lyrics. The first thing you will note is that the production is beautiful; while 90s Swervedriver may sound somewhat gritty and dated, the new album embarks on a journey to layer every millisecond with cleanly-cut sound. 

‘Last Rites’ illuminates this even more as swooping guitar notes barrel down a glacial soundscape, taking us further along the ride. ‘For A Day Like Tomorrow’ blends nostalgia with conceding optimism as Adam Franklin reveals about maintaining hope for the next day when nothing else seems real. ‘Setting Sun’ is the clear single, a rocking track enveloped in contrast between spotlight and shadow. 

‘Everso’ features the band’s signature guitar chords that shimmer overtop reverb-infused vocals. It is a song full of anxiety and longing. “It’s not over, but nothing lasts for long,” sings Adam about what was a possible failure of communication on ‘English Subtitles.’ Next, ‘Red Queen Arms Race’ hits us with the first heavy, fuzzy-edged guitar tones to be heard in the album. ‘Deep Wound,’ although somewhat repetitive, highlights the band’s classic wall of sound. ‘Lone Star’ is perhaps the highlight of the album, bringing together noisy drumming and sonic guitar solos. The closing track, ‘I Wonder’ delves deeper into layers that bring a comfortable finale to the album. 

One thing that remains consistently admirable about Swervedriver is their ability to reflect emotion from pure sound. Guitar tones are sometimes crestfallen and full of regret, other times brimming with adrenaline and unscathed energy. There are moments when the listener may feel doubtful, lacking confidence in their own decisions. Other instances, the songs may pound forward, overflowing with power and a keen desire for discovery. Their music will bring you back from the numbness of day-to-day life and command your attention.

In summary, I Wasn’t Born to Lose You is an album that neither inspires nor dulls, but simply serves its purpose. Although it may lack the edge and intensity of previous Swervedriver records, you must remind yourself that this is a band that has not recorded together in nearly eighteen years. Despite remaining a highly enjoyable album, to the casual listener it may serve as no more than a reminder to dig out your old Swervedriver CDs or cassette tapes. And if that is the extent of I Wasn’t Born to Lose You’s outcome, then so be it; new tunes are welcomed, but the old stuff will still sound as great as ever. 

The album will be released on March 3, 2015. Tour dates and album orders are available here. 

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