Hailing from New Jersey, Can’t Swim have a lot of big name bands to look up to, including The Misfits, My Chemical Romance and the Jonas Brothers. Okay, okay, so maybe the JoBros aren’t the highest standard of music (although Burnin’ Up is still a bop), but in their relatively short career, Can’t Swim have definitely been as successful.
Vocalist and guitarist Chris LoPorto first formed the band back in 2015 after he shared his emotional post-punk demos with friends Mike Sanchez, Danny Rico, and Greg McDevitt. The four piece then set to work grinding out an EP, Death Deserves a Name, which released in the very next year on Pure Noise Records.
Can’t Swim has stayed on the label and rocketed to the top, spending most of their time since then on tour with bands like Four Year Strong and Moose Blood before heading back to the studio to work on their first full length, which is among Alternative Press’s “Most Anticipated” releases of 2017.
The band quickly realized their new album was something special and needed a bigger supporting sound in live performances, so they called up longtime friend Andrea Morgan to jump on drums so Rico could move to third guitar and vocals. The new lineup have been out promoting their new album Fail You Again as they wrap up a tour with A Day to Remember and get prepped for a European tour with Real Friends and Microwave.
Fail You Again manages an honest and emotional sound without feeling contrived. In true pop- and post-punk fashion, the album blends a mix of mellow singing with raspy screaming to bring a message of friendship and heartbreak ultimately finding the perfect balance between fight-ready songs like “We Won’t Sleep” (linked below) and angsty confessions like “Molly’s Desk.”
That being said, the album comes out swinging with “What’s Your Big Idea” and never really lets up. The opening track is a full-frontal assault, hitting listeners with hardcore guitar and raspy vocals - definitely a fight song. Although the track is definitely effective in getting people pumped up for the rest of the album, it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the album’s sound, which hits just as heavy but lets LoPorto’s and Rico’s vocals shine without sounding as grating.
While not every song is fast-paced with aggressive guitar and drumlines, the only soft track is “Quitting,” a soft-spoken track about anxiety and low self-esteem. The high-energy nature of the album is perfect for a concert space but ultimately gets a little tiring if you’re listening to it alone in your room (or maybe I’m just getting old).
Still, for a band that’s only two years in the making, Fail You Again is a phenomenal feat. Can’t Swim has found their footing in the post-punk world and have nowhere to go but up.
Top Track: “We Won’t Sleep” and “Molly’s Desk”
Verdict: Despite the band name, Can’t Swim have navigated the rough waters of the post-punk scene with more skill than some of the most seasoned bands. Fail You Again is an exceptional album, both lyrically and musically. Can’t Swim are definitely a band to watch.