Artist: Can’t Swim
Title: As The Dust Settles
Label: Pure Noise Records
Words: Tash West
New Jersey punks Can’t Swim dropped a surprise release yesterday in the shape of a four track EP aptly named ‘As The Dust Settles’. We say aptly named due to the current standstill of circumstances all around the world due to Covid-19 – and this release grabs this concept and runs with it; fast yet delicately. Each track is a reimagined version of some of their older material and shines a light on their musicianship and creative ethos.
Obviously, Can’t Swim aren’t the first band in history to produce an EP / album which features reimagined versions of their songs: Hands Like Houses, Pvris and Boston Manor are to name but a few; yet Can’t Swim seem to manage to sail to a new plain here and a this is a far cry from the renditions we have heard before on their previous releases. Forget heavy guitars and rolling bass lines and forget the raucousness. Instead, imagine piano, acoustic guitars and violins. It’s a hard concept to picture, yet if it wasn’t for Chris LoPorto’s distinct vocals, this could be a whole other band. However, their rawness and desolation is still apparent even in this new venture.
“CAN’T SWIM HAVE VENTURED NEW WATERS.”
The EP opens with a revisited version of “sometimes you meet the right people at the wrong times”. This is the first of two tracks included on ‘As The Dust Settles’ from 2018’s ‘This Too Won’t Pass’ and appropriately sets the scene for the rest of the thirteen minute and thirty five seconds of listening time. This is a haunting tale of a lost love and yearning which is mirrored in their lyrics of “the writings on the photo that you gave to me is all I have left” and it is even more apparent in the bridge, which kicks up the pace with staccato piano parts and the desperate cries of “this is all I have left”.
As mentioned previously, here Can’t Swim have ventured into new waters. Second track ‘Death Deserves A Name’ is arguably the most similar from its 2016 predecessor. The drive of this song was always quite downbeat (even slightly Death Cab For Cutie-esque), so this coupled up nicely for a rethought ‘acoustic’ version. The delayed guitar intro has been replaced with a flowing piano melody and an idle drum beat and it just sounds marvelous. On the other quite opposite hand, ‘Stranger’ (from 2017’s ‘Fail You Again’) could almost stand alone as a pop song in its own right as it single-handedly encapsulates the feeling of a soft ballad but with an emo-tinge of hankering after someone who doesn’t love you back. If you close your eyes you can almost imagine hearing this in the background of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
“IT’S SAFE TO SAY THAT CAN’T SWIM ARE ONCE MORE BRINGING THEIR A-GAME WHEN IT COMES TO WAVING THE FLAG FOR AMERICA’S PUNK-HARDCORE SCENE.”
They save the best until last with this one, with the sweeping violins entering at the beginning of ‘My Queen’ (also from ‘This Too Won’t Pass’) and they never really leave. If you are going to add any orchestral instrument into the mix, violins are always a good option; and they’ve become more apparent in contemporary music in recent years with bands such as Yellowcard and Mogwai being at the forefront. LoPorto’s vocals are really isolated here and it really showcases the depth of his tone and the anguish behind the narrative. Can’t Swim like telling stories and this is one you should be listening too.
Having collaborated with punk legend Frank Carter on the high energy and political track ‘Power’ and having Trash Talk’s Spencer Pollard on the enraged ‘Filthy Rich’ in the past, it’s safe to say that Can’t Swim are usually bringing their A-game when it comes to waving the flag for America’s punk-hardcore scene. ‘As The Dust Settles’ is the perfect counter balanced release.
‘As The Dust Settles’ is out now via Pure Noise Records.