Swervedriver’s reunion is one of those rare rock and roll rekindlings that’s not the least bit questionable. No need to ponder over the integrity of the singer guy's (Adam Franklin) vocals, nor should one be suspect about the group’s motives. In fact, the only circumstance where you'll be paying three-figures a pop to see them perform is if they've attached themselves to a music festival. Simply put, there's no acrimony between this band and their humble legion of hanger-oners , and despite the decade long layover once a Swervies fan, always a Swervies fan.
I was absolutely besotted with their debut Raise, when it dropped in 1991. A seemingly effortless (and perhaps unintentional) amalgam of ear-bleeding dream-
pop rock, buttressed with grunge-worthy heaps of distortion that found this Oxford, UK quartet traipsing on the coattails of both disparate spheres in more than respectable fashion. No question about it, Raise was a revelation - an often murky latticework of amped-out feedback, woozy pedal-ridden effects, and subrosa melodies. Truth be told I pined for the guitarsy freak-outs
of "Sandblasted" and "Son of Mustang Ford" to be remolded on subsequent Swervdriver albums. That selfish “pining,” as it were, remains unfulfilled to this day, but
even with the more noisome attributes tamped down, the band's sinewy and complex arrangements were retained on Mezcal Head, Ejector Seat Reservation, and 99th Dream, albeit in a measurably more lucid modus operandi. So where and how does I Wasn't Born to Lose You
stack up after such an elephantine wait?
Amazingly, I Wasn't Born... sounds like a bona fide Swervedriver album, and not merely a continuation of Adam's solo albums, or stretching back a bit further, his post-SD conglomeration Toshack Highway. Perhaps we can chalk this up to three quarters of the '90s line-up still loyally intact, with lead six-stringer Jimmy Hartridge and bassist Steve George remaining in tow - almost as integral to the band's chemistry as Adam Franklin himself. The tuneful and glistening opening salvo, "Autodidact" doesn't pick up where 1998's 99th Dream left off, so much as their sophomore 1993 platter Mezcal Head. "Autodidact" is a remarkably good sign of things to come, leading into Born's... most sonically dense cut, "Last Rites," which is accented with washes of flanged guitars and sturdy sonic musculature. Further in, "Deep Wound" is about as close as the Swervies come to replicating Raise's feedback-layered aesthetic. "Setting Sun's" chiming interplay and the resonating "For a Day Like Tomorrow" could also pass for outtakes of yore. Aside from the overlong "Everso" and "Red Queen Arms Race's" bluesy, slow-burning stride, I Wasn't Born... is near faultless. It's tempting to refer to this as Swervedriver's "return to form," but the fact is they've deviated negligibly from their twentieth century formula. Furthermore, one is left to wonder how many more terrific Swervedriver albums we'd have on our hands had it not been for their fifteen year dormancy between records!
The band have concluded a run of dates in the States, and will be visiting Canada in May and June. Check out I Wasn't Born to Lose You from Amazon, iTunes, and Insound.