No one likes a name dropper, but Oakland-based punk rockers SWMRS – who went by the name of Emily’s Army until September 2014 – have two big ‘uns with which to associate themselves. Their producer on Drive North? FIDLAR’s Zac Carper. Their drummer’s dad? A certain Billie Joe Armstrong. SWMRS have got their superstar connections alright, but has any of that brilliance in the same field rubbed off on LP number three, their first since 2013?
Not really is the answer; Drive North is a disjointed mishmash which ultimately gives off the impression that SWMRS’ don’t really know what they are or what they want to sound like. It’s a shame if truth be told; the album kicks off with two rip-roaring belters. ‘Harry Dean’ and ‘BRB’ are so addictive that one has to make a concerted effort to stop hitting repeat and let the record roll on. Ultimately though, they raise false hope, and any enjoyment Drive North might provide pretty much stops right there.
Elsewhere, SWMRS struggle to make waves. On the cringeworthy ‘Miss Yer Kiss’ and ‘Turn Up’, they go borderline boyband, the mention of “punk rock” in the lyrics of ‘Miley’ appearing painfully ironic – the album’s longest cut recalls Americana, the record on which some would say alleged punk rockers The Offspring completely lost the plot. SWMRS manage to do just the same on Drive North.
In fairness, Drive North does come to an end with the best of the rest, with furious-sounding frontman Cole Becker insisting that he HATES Los Angeles on its riotous title track. Sadly, it’s the closest thing to a pure punk moment on an album that reveals a band suffering from an identity crisis.
Buy: SWMRS – Drive North