Album Review: The Swellers – “The Light Under Closed Doors”

When The Swellers self released 2012’s ‘Running Out Of Places To Go’ there was an air of uncertainty surrounding the four piece. Without a label, having bravely decided to fly the ‘Fueled By Ramen’ nest, the band recorded and released the aforementioned EP on their own terms which resulted in it becoming an important release for them. It showed that without restraint the band could produce some of their best material, it was a signal of intent.

Fast forward a year and things continue to look up for Michigan’s finest. The Swellers have found a new home in ‘No Sleep Records’ and it’s a very good fit. Despite the moral and musical similarities the label has a healthy habit of releasing quality albums from some fine bands on their roster such as ‘Balance And Composure’ ,’Major League’ and ‘Mixtapes’ and will be confident that their Swellers debut will not buck that happy trend.

‘The Light Under Closed Doors’, the band’s fifth full length, starts with what seems like an old friend. ”Should” was the first track to be officially aired as a taster for the album and has had ample time to bore its way into the part of the brain that gets you to turn the volume up, and it kicks things off in fine fashion. ”Big Hearts” is next up and is much more melodically immediate. As Nick Diener sings “Give me something I can finally sink my teeth in” you get the impression that this release is somewhat climatic for everyone involved; the sound of a band with their troubles in the rear view and their sights firmly on the here and now.

While last years EP sounded polished, the opposite is true for this release. From start to finish the album sounds like a live set from a band in their prime who believe in every note they play and every word they sing. ”Great Lakes State” is a great punk track that should equate to lots of audience sweat and smiles when unleashed live. Another track that was made available before the album is “Becoming Self Aware”, a fine example of Nick Diener’s catchy songwriting that can’t help but strike a chord. Even a slow burner like “High/Low” has so much emotion riddled through it that even if you don’t quite get it first listen you know you will second or third. There may only be 10 tracks on offer but the ‘quality over quantity’ adage can definitely be applied here.

The Swellers are a band who are always either in a van or on a stage; their devotion to the art is to be admired, and over a decade of that cycle has molded them into a top quality punk band. They have behind them an impressive back catalogue from which to draw and they are just about to release their best album to date; To see where the band goes from here should be very interesting indeed. If brighter lights and bigger audiences one day beckon then surely no one can say they don’t deserve it. If you like albums full of relatable emotion, heartfelt lyrics and choruses that just won’t quit, then look no further.

4.5/5 Stars

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