Artist: Can’t Swim
Album: Death Deserves a Name – EP
At first glance, Can’t Swim could be your new favorite metalcore act. Black and white album art, snarky name and melodramatic album title? It’s all there; all reminiscent of that one band you were in love with last month but now can’t even remember the name of.
Now here’s the curve ball:
In spite of the album name and art—even in spite of the band’s name, Can’t Swim are no Nu-metalcore band, and they are certainly not forgettable. Combining pop-punk and post-hardcore elements with the nostalgic twang of 90’s emo, Death Deserves a Name is a cantankerous, catchy beast that has the listener bobbing the head one minute and wiping away tears the next. Laden with whimsical, teenage angst and propelled by youthful energy, Can’t Swim are the kind of band that even skeptics of alternative and more mellow styles of rock will find themselves hooked on in a heartbeat.
With the melting pot of styles that Can’t Swim combine to create their unique sound, the band seem to defy a specific genre, but rather, dabble throughout the sprawling spectrum covered by “rock.” Album opener “Your Clothes” oscillates between dancy, quick percussion and moody, mellow ambience, ending with a jarring, dissonant breakdown that is as crushing as it is catchy. In many ways, “Your Clothes” sets the tone for Death Deserves a Name as a whole, with the band’s drummer, Danny Rico, setting the tone. “Way It Was” is a short, speedy track where the percussion barely slows down at all, roaring away with Greg McDevitt’s lumbering, bouncy bass in tow. Together, Rico and McDevitt work together to occupyhugs spans of musical space—with McDevitt’s bass tone kicking off “Your Clothes” with it’s thick, rubbery bounce—quickly accompanied by a flashy drum pattern and sporadic, frantic fretwork. “Come Home” sees the two working closely once more—serving as a fun, fluid foundation for guitarist Mike Sanchez to craft energetic,enthusiastic riffs atop—with frontman and second guitarist Chris “Krier” Loporto right by his side. Sanchez and Loporto are predominantly energetic, pausing only momentarily throughout songs like “Your Clothes” and “Right Choice” just to catch their breath and give the listener a moment to keep up—until, that is, the grim, emotional closing track, “Death Deserves a Name.” Here, Rico is rarely heard, and McDevitt is forced to harmonize with the subtle plucking of Sanchez’s guitar; dropping off the last twelve minutes’ worth of buzz into a dark and ethereal comedown.
While Can’t Swim’s sometimes-poppy, sometimes-grim, sometimes-heavy musical dynamic is stand-out enough on its own, frontman Loporto is the anchor that brings together the sum influences of the band and channels them with his unique voice and quirky lyricism. At times reminiscent of Modern Baseball’s frontman, yet at others sounding eerily similar to Modest Mouse or Sunny Day Real Estate, Loporto’s vocals give Death Deserves a Name an intangible, catchy edge that many of Can’t Swim’s peers lack. The way he drops from a bold roar into “there’s something I’m afraid to hide” on “Your Clothes,” or his haunting—yet calm—candor on the EP’s titular track is enough to win over any listener—let alone his work on the quick and catchy “Way It Was.” Whether you’re a fan of his more boisterous and bold shouting or his soft crooning, Death Deserves a Name has plenty of Loporto to go ‘round as he follows the musicians’ cue of getting increasingly softer and more ambient as the EP progresses, until his somber performance on the last track is enough to draw tears from the listener’s eyes.
So, true enough that Can’t Swim don’t flood the listener’s lungs (and ears) with belligerent brutality—however, Death Deserves a Name is an ocean of painstakingly arranged dissonance designed to latch hooks in the listener’s ears by the time “Your Clothes” is half-way over. Cavalier in a classically “rock” way, while emotional and endearing a la yesteryear’s post-hardcore and emo releases. In a word, Can’t Swim is unique—although “energetic,” “fun” and “diverse” also come to mind—giving everyone something to live about the band’s debut effort.
For Fans Of: Modest Mouse, Modern Baseball, Make Do and Mend, Landscapes
By: Connor Welsh