Can’t Swim are a rock band from New Jersey that were able to sign to Pure Noise Records just off networking and the strength of their demos, before they had even released any music and were lucky enough to be able to release their debut EP, Death Deserves a Name, with the backing of a label.
While this amount of success early on, the pressure to deliver a good (at the very least) debut full length must of been enormous. Luckily, on Fail You Again, Can’t Swim have delivered on the potential that their debut EP and early signing showed, with a refinement in their sound, smoothing down their rough edges and expanding on the more melodic sounds hinted at on their earlier material.
Opening with the track What’s the Big Deal, Can’t Swim immediately hit you with heavy, grungy instrumentation similar to Citizen and Balance and Composure before introducing you to the gritty vocals of Chirs LoPorto. At the 0:36 the band launches into an absolute explosive chorus, with the whole band kicking in, pummelling the audience with downtuned riffs, with higher pitched background vocals serving to increase the already formidable amount of energy present.
However, Can’t Swim immediately mix it up with the second track, We Won’t Sleep, presenting a far more melodic sound, sounding quite similar to Transit, with a very danceable chorus and uses background vocals in a manner akin to Taking Back Sunday.
From here, the band has tracks that blend their more raucous, heavy rock side with their more melodic side to varying degrees, with tracks such as One Shot and All the Moves We Make Are In the Dark really leaning into the grungy, bass led instrumentation that defined their earlier material. Conversely, tracks such as Quitting and Hey Amy show a more delicate side of the band, with smooth vocals and more restrained instrumentation that never drifts into ballad territory, usually having a display of their more muscular sound during the choruses.
During this album Can’t Swim’s wide array of influences are on display, with strands of different bands being apparent, such as The Movielife, Transit, Moose Blood and Balance and Composure, being thrown together in a way that sounds unique. Fail You Again sees Can’t Swim having a beefier sound than a lot of their peers, able to go loud when they need to, but knowing when a softer touch is needed, not afraid to go where the songs need to go instead of sticking to their comfort zone.
Fail You Again sees the band pushing the boundaries of their sound instrumentally, going far beyond the fuzzy, metallic sound present on their Death Deserves a Name EP, expanding on the idea shown on the EPs final track, with Can’t Swim bringing forward a warm sound instrumentally.
While Can’t Swim’s three guitarists (Mike Sanchez, Danny Rico and vocalist Christ LoPorto) are still rooted in an alternative rock sound, with the choruses on a lot of the songs present here having a loud, downtuned presence to them, the basswork from Grey McDevitt is what helps this album have such a warm sound. The bass is always present throughout the album, even during the bands softer moments, having a very natural sound, while drummer Andrea Morgan being the ultimate supporting player for Can’t Swim, always knowing when to change it up to compliment the band while never hogging the spotlight.
The nearest comparisons for the vocals of Chris DoPorto would have to be Vinnie Caruana from The Movielife or Jimmy Stadt from Polar Bear Club, as he has a very gritty tone to his voice, but also has the ability to transition to smoother, warming sung vocals through Fail You Again, with the difference between these two styles being quite startling as times (comparing the vocals in the tracks What’s the Big Deal and Show Me highlight this).
Fail You Again sees Can’t Swim put a focused effort to increase the variety and catchiness in their sound and songwriting, without sacrificing what put them on the map in the first place, delivering an emotionally honest album manages to have a warm atmosphere that a lot of bands in the darker end of the pop-punk/emo genre seem to lack. It is this combination of angst and warmth that gives Fail You Again an unexpectedly intimate, personal feel, that should hopefully resonate with their fanbase and help them stand out in the overcrowded music scene that Can’t Swim have found themselves in. Keep an eye on these guys.
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