For a lot of bands, ‘progression’ normally means mellowing out over time, but you just try telling that to New Jersey’s Can’t Swim.
Many first impressions would have earmarked them as an addition to the emo revival, but their last album, ‘This Too Won’t Pass’, was a bit rougher around the edges. For this new EP, ‘Foreign Language’, the band are an entirely different proposition altogether, virtually going full circle into hardcore. From the artwork to the blunt song titles (such as ‘Prick’), there’s clearly a lot bubbling underneath.
And straight away, we have the title-track as close to straight hardcore as you can get, complete with gang vocals, and we have a very brief vocal from Adam Lazzara (Taking Back Sunday) to close things out. This track is on the short side of things, of course, but the strength of this is that it leaves us perched and wanting more.
They haven’t entirely left their ear for melody behind, such as in ‘Filthy Rich’, but parts of this still make you wonder whether or not you’re actually listening to Can’t Swim, or if it’s another band entirely. The guest appearance of Spencer Pollard (Trash Talk) makes the aforementioned track even more furious, and past songs such as ‘We Won’t Sleep’ couldn’t be a further cry from this – the chiptune ending keep us guessing yet again.
The chorus of ‘Shoot’ has cleverly placed lyrics in the chorus, which is a subtle but important way of upping the ante, and the half-time section which morphs into a full-on breakdown is incendiary. And ‘Power’, which surprisingly isn’t a million miles away from Terror, is another slab of aggression, and its hook makes it even more potent.
And the politically-charged nature of the righteously angry ‘Prick’ leaves you with no second-guessing. Even when Chris LoPorto isn’t screaming his head off, there’s a sneering undertone to his vocal delivery which adds an extra layer of character, such as the “put your money where your mouth is” mosh call.
With this recent progression of their sound, they may try their hand at death metal at some point, but you legitimately can’t work out what Can’t Swim will do on their next release. ‘Foreign Language’ is a short but punishingly effective EP, and you can only wish more bands would mess with expectations in this way.