Album: Berkeley on Fire
Release Date: Feb 15th 2019
Label: Fueled by Ramen
SWMRS have been in the headlines the past few weeks because they have been said to ‘Cause punk justice’ (The Post) with their new album, ‘Berkley’s on Fire’; I beg to differ. I really like SWMRS and I think their first album, ‘Drive North‘ really helped bring somewhat of a modern spin on punk rock and cause it some justice, but ‘Berkeley’s on Fire’ didn’t really do that as a whole.
Before I get into the musical aspect, I always like to talk about the album art. I really like the homemade style of it. The idea that it is maybe graffitied on a wall or on a crappy piece of cardboard is very creative and gives off DIY punk vibes. There are many bland colors in the the background and splotched all over the cover; the pink, yellow and blue that make up/surround the band members create a pop of color that attracts the eye of the audience. SWMRS wants to share their music and attract the attention of their audience. Having the bright colors on a boring background grabs the audience’s eyes and helps tie the whole cover together. There are also small blobs of yellow on the mannequin head to once again just draw some attention to the craziness that this record is supposed to contain.
I was pretty disappointed with this album if I am being completely honest. I wanted more things that sounded like ‘D’you got a Car’ from their first album or even more songs that sounded like ‘April in Houston’ from this album, but that is just not what happened. It is obvious that SWMRS is trying to spread their wings in sound, but it doesn’t fit when mixed in with their original sound. This album had all the sounds that they were trying to experiment with mixed in with some actual punk sounding songs. If they were going to try this new sound, the whole album should have followed that style a little more closely.
The album starts with the song ‘Berkley’s on Fire.’ The song is very repetitive and doesn’t have good rhythm to it. This description can be used to talk about many more songs on the album such as, ‘Lose, Lose, Lose’, ‘Bad Allergies’, ‘Hellboy’, and ‘Steve Got Robbed.’ Some of these songs also took a turn into the synth direction; not saying that synth can’t be amazing ( just listen to ‘Carryon my Wayward Son’; it’s basically all synth and guitar solos and it blazees) but in this scenario, it really does not work for any songs on this album.
A few good songs that came from this album were, ‘Too Much Coffee’, ‘Lonely Ghosts’, and my personal favorite ‘Trashbag Baby.’ These were all upbeat and really brought out that new twist on punk rock that SWMRS are known for I just wanted more songs that followed that pattern.
Overall, I was not super impressed with the sound and composition of this album. I would end up giving it like a 4.5/10. One thing this album had going for it was good or bad, all the songs were catchy as hell and I can’t get a single one out of my head.