When you are on a roll, you might as well keep pushing and that’s exactly what New Jersey’s Can’t Swim are doing. Since forming in 2015, they’ve pretty much released an album/EP in every year of their existence, and they get 2023 off to the best possible start with their fourth long-player, Thanks But No Thanks. It finds the band coming full-circle to deliver an album that captures the magic of their 2017 debut, You Fail Again while simultaneously setting their sights on the future.
Can’t Swim are a band in perpetual motion with each release having a distinct sound, yet one thing they’ve always held onto is a sense of humour. Sometimes it might be buried deep, but dig a little and you’ll find an existential chuckle at the absurdity of modern life. Opening with a playful poke at Alkaline Trio’s ‘Radio’, Can’t Swim deal all the aces with ‘Nowhere, Ohio’, a song that encapsulates all that makes the band great. Spiky and angular guitars are tethered by a weight rhythm section over which fly Chris LoPorto’s nonchalantly bemused vocals. It’s a wonderful slice of alternative rock with which to tickle an eardrum, and sets a precedent for the rest of the album.
Having reached a pinnacle of sorts with their last album (Change Of Plans, 2021) Can’t Swim went back to basics, shut themselves away from the world to write this record and the result is perhaps their most collaborative effort. It’s certainly the most cohesive and Thanks But No Thanks ebbs and flows like an old school album, taking us from the heady heights of ‘me vs me vs all of y’all’ to the loquacious low of ‘i heard they found you face down inside your living room’. Can’t Swim take the listener on a musical roller coaster and, by dint of the band’s emo roots, they reach deep into your psyche to pluck your heartstrings.
Can’t Swim are a band who incorporate many different styles; pop-punk, emo, alt rock and indie are all tags that have been thrown at the group, and while they all ring true, Can’t Swim sound like no one but themselves. This gives the band a lot of freedom and they put it to good use on the (caps raged) ‘ELIMINATE’, a song that’s sure to become a staple at many a skate park, before dropping down a few gears for the whimsical, lower case ‘i’ve never paid a toll on the garden state parkway’. Despite the sonic shift, the two tracks make for easy bedfellows and is further evidence (if any were needed) to their mastery, the constant push and pull that evokes feelings in the listener, and no more so than on closer ‘thx but no thx’. It’s a low-key finalé, but not unpowerful and, as it fades into the ether, it’ll have you pressing ‘play’ again.
In constant evolution they may be, but Can’t Swim aren’t the kind of band who’ll break their fan’s hearts. There’s growth here, yet it’s essentially the same Can’t Swim doing what they do best and they don’t come much better that Thanks But No Thanks.
- Thanks But No Thanks is released via Pure Noise Records on 3rd March 2023 (from here).
- Nowhere, Ohio
- can you help me
- me vs me vs all of y’all
- met u the day the world ended
- yer paradox i’m paradigm
- i heard that they found you face down inside your living room
- i’ve never paid a toll on the garden state parkway
- even my anger has issues
- thx but no thx