Swervedriver: Future Ruins (Danger Bird) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Swervedriver

Future Ruins

Dangerbird

Jan 21, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


As one of the key figures in the birth of the musical genre that came to be known as shoegaze, not to mention one of Creation Records' pivotal signings during the label's halcyon era, Swervedriver's legendary status is already cemented. While the two records the band released for Creation didn't exactly follow any given template as such, their influence has undoubtedly played a part in the development of experimental guitar music ever since.

So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that Future Ruins, their sixth LP and second since 2008's reunion ranks highly alongside those past glories from yesteryear. Where predecessor I Wasn't Born to Lose You (2015) announced their return to writing and recording as a "business as usual" statement of intent, Future Ruins pushes the envelope beyond expectations or indeed, any specific genre.

Having signed to Mogwai's Rock Action imprint in the UK last year (and to Dangerbird in America), Swervedriver's first release for their new suitors represents a bold step forwards. Sure, there are moments here that recall the sonic haze of their Creation heydayopening track and lead single "Mary Winter" for instancebut its on the more adventurous likes of "Theeascending" and "Radio-Silent" where the ante is upped. Influenced by the disintegrating world around him and the potential impact on its future, frontman Adam Franklin has written a bunch of songs here that capture the mood yet simultaneously offer a guiding light towards the end of a darkened tunnel.

"Everybody's Going Somewhere & No-One's Going Anywhere" takes the form of a dystopian lullaby while "Drone Lover" uses wordplay about technological warfare interspersed with sludge driven riffs to hammer home its sentiment. Elsewhere, "The Lonely Crowd Fades in the Air" provides the axis for a meeting point between The Clash and The Supremes alongside "Spiked Flower" and "Good Times Are So Hard to Follow," two straight up pop bangers that would be certainties for primetime radio airplay in a parallel universe.

Not only is Future Ruins a welcome addition to the Swervedriver canon. It also fully confirms their reunion was anything but a nostalgia trip. (www.swervedriver.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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Wes
January 30th 2019
4:33am

Wow…not hearing what critics are. Maybe I’m listening to a different Future Ruins?

The release I’m hearing is forgettable and dirge-like. The opening track (teaser “Mary Winter”) is pleasant enough but nothing special. “The Lonely Crowd etc.” is as good as things get this go-around…airy and melodic and what fans expect from this venerated outfit (who returned to magnificent form on their come-back 2015 album.)

But WOW do things so South quickly after the torpor-inducing title track. “Theeascending” is the last song for some time you’ll sort-of nod your head to and think well that’s much better; a mid-tempo burner that still isn’t all that remarkable or memorable. But at least it gets the taste of “Future Ruins” out of your mind’s mouth.

And that sadly is it until the final somber funereal march of “Radio-Silent.” The remaining tracks have neither life nor energy nor forward momentum. “Drone Lover” does just that…drone at a fixed pace. “Spiked Flower” might just stick with you as at least it’s almost bouncy in a medium-heat kind of way.

The next three tracks fall flat and sound god-awful; “Golden Remedy” in particular sounds washed-out and muffled as if recorded through a rolled-up sock. “Good Times etc.” continues the mediocre pace of things and “Everybody’s Going Somewhere etc.” goes exactly where you expect it to.

As slow (trust me…this record is sluggish too often) as the final track is and as muzzled as the vocals sound (they start off at about a 3 then slowly rise to about a 7 volume-wise) it’s one of the few songs that leave an impression the first time through.

I am so disappointed and cannot believe I’ve waited since Autumn of 2017 (according to PledgeMusic the band announced this turgid follow-up to I Wasn’t Born would be released sometime in Spring…of 2018.

THIS was not worth waiting for and it doesn’t even sound like a record that a band spent a lot of time on. They sound spent and tired and Franklin sounds as if he was trying to bury his voice in the mix along w/ every other instrument here; NOTHING stands out except the few songs that attempt to generate movement.

I Wasn’t Born was crackling; Future barely moves the needle. It’s as gray and washed-out as the cover and a sludgy about-face from the last effort and indeed the best of the band’s 90’s output. I’d barely give this a 3 of 10.