The Swellers’ Good For Me was not good for me


Good For Me

The Swellers

Release Date: Jun 14, 11

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The Swellers are one of those journeyman bands. The tortoise to many bands’ hare. Formed nearly a decade ago in Flint, Michigan, they have endured several line-up changes and after a handful of small releases the Swellers got their big break in 2009 with their Fueled By Ramen debut, Ups and Downsizing. They worked their way from VFW halls in the Midwest to major tours with Paramore, Motion City Soundtrack and Bayside.

One might think that after such a journey their skills would be tight and their sound refined. Unfortunately the Swellers musical chops do not seem to have evolved in any way that would excite new listeners or old fans with maturing ears. Their Fueled By Ramen follow-up, Good For Me is a musically narrow and lyrically jumbled mess that does little to advance their mediocre brand of pop punk and fails to challenge the listener in any way.

Good For Me sounds like an attempt at Punchline’s 2006 record 37 Everywhere, another Fueled By Ramen pop punk sophomore release. But it misses the mark in nearly every category (I like the cover art for Good For Me a little bit more).

The album opens with “Runaway,” a lackluster call to arms as the band urges listeners to “Give it away, make a mistake. Take a risk for the first time;” some advice the band should have heeded. “Runaway” collapses into “Inside My Head,” an equally meh track that does little to excite the listener, which is followed by “The Damage” which is more of the same.

The band seems to have perfected the art of writing a three and a half minute pop punk song with sugary sweet melodies; the problem is that is no feat. It is like being proud that you can say your ABCs. Anyone can put together four chords and glue together some trite phrases about a girl or being misunderstood. The real art is making something truly amazing in a watered down and dying genre and this isn’t even close.

The instrumentation is fine and nothing to write home about. Jonathan Diener’s crashing drums and Anto Boros nearly invisible bass create a foundation for the ten-song offering that keep the songs driving forward, even when it feels like they should be restrained. “Better Days” had a decent melody but the bombast drumming tramples over any momentum the song might have had.

The record’s biggest issue is the lack of vision when it comes to their lyrics. Lead vocalist Nick Diener sounds as though he is making up the words on the spot and the lack of imagination would be laughable if it was not so damned unlistenable. His strained tenor yelps about his disinterest in putting on a suit and joining the work force, how noble he thinks he is by “telling stories” in order to save the world and other vapid and innocuous lines.

Overall this is an extremely forgettable record that would be a good fit in my teenage cousin’s iTunes library. Actually, I would not subject her to this. I’ll just buy her a copy of 37 Everywhere.