Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM


I Wasn’t Born to Lose You | Swervedriver


The 1990s fostered a great number of innovative artists, many of whom created or advanced genres of musical expression. The angsty audio pioneers of Nirvana and Pearl Jam carved grunge out of a disenfranchised monolith of seditious marble, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Tortoise collapsed and crescendoed their way into a post-rock apocalypse, and Björk made native Icelandic music more, shall we say, tolerable.

Yet, of all the varied classifications of alternative rock of Generation Y, no genre was more confusing than shoegaze. An amalgamation of alternative, psychedelic and indie rock, the word shoegaze describes the appearance of the typical performer on stage: as he or she methodically pounds out heavily distorted power chords into a warm miasma of towering sound waves, the musician introspectively gazes downward at their shoes. The shoegaze giants My Bloody Valentine blew the minds of hip millennials back in the day with their album Loveless, paving the way for groups like Catherine Wheel and Slowdive to garner some fame and fortune; however, of all the dreamy shoegazers of the 1990s, no band rocked harder than the Oxford, England-based act Swervedriver. Releasing only four albums from 1989 to 1998, Swervedriver vanished into obscurity, with members like frontman Adam Franklin pursuing other creative outputs. Seventeen years later, in the era of the comeback album, Swervedriver releases a brand new collection of tunes in the shoegaze genre.

I Wasn’t Born to Lose You begins by stuffing the listener into a time machine and warping back to 1991, around the time when their debut album Raise was released. The opening track “Autodidact” features dissonant guitar chords that are scaled and picked over more supportive stringed instruments, minimalist keys and shaker-heavy percussion. At any given moment, it sounds like Swervedriver’s four-man lineup grows in size to withstand a hundred guitarists; this is in part due to the band’s trademark Phil Spector-esque wall-of-sound, which sounds just as massive and frenetic like when it was erected during the Clinton presidency. Franklin’s voice might as well have been frozen in time: the lead singer and guitarist sounds almost pitch-perfect to his former 1990s doppelgänger.

Following the opening song is the track “Last Rites”, which opens with a distorted electric guitar riff that drills deep into the listener’s eardrums. Swervedriver is foremost a guitar-led band and each song has a new melody that has the power to elevate or destroy. On the track “For a Day Like Tomorrow”, Franklin unleashes a reverb-soaked tremolo-picked electric lick that bounces off the floating ornaments of treble and bass. I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, running an appropriate 48 minutes, picks up where the band left off in the late 1990s. Tracks like “Everso” and “I Wonder?” run over the five-minute mark, sprinkling crash cymbal-dominated post-rock jam sessions betwixt dense riffage and Franklin’s come-hither croon; conversely, pieces like “Deep Wound” embody the headbanging spirit of past singles like “Son of Mustang Ford” and pump unadulterated alt-psych rock into the brains of the lucky listener. Truly, the only difference between the modern and antiquated Swervedrivers is the amount of hairs on the band members’ heads.

Perhaps the lack of musical innovation is the singular crack in Swervedriver’s iridescent aural armour. While the album hits the dedicated Swerve fan in the nostalgia bone, the blow deals the mortal wound of repetitiveness. This point is certainly up for debate, and judging by other bands’ recent comeback albums, it is not always a bad idea to stick to the basics. The experimental noise rock band Swans recorded arguably the best album (To Be Kind) of last year by remaining true to their modus operandi, whereas the 1980s indie gods The Pixies released, for better or for worse, a LP with an evolved sound to middling critical reception. While Swervedriver’s rebirth from the ashes sounds ostensibly like more of the same, why complain when the band’s remarkable catalog sounds so good?

I Wasn’t Born to Lose You delivers the goods with near-perfection. The album’s intense guitar artistry, meticulous production, and solid vocals establish Swervedriver as the premier shoegaze band of the 2010s. Its songs are drenched in sonic honey, and I Wasn’t Born to Lose You stands out from its contemporaries as a true sonic treat. The band from Oxford, England do the impossible: they recapture lightning in a bottle.

I Wasn’t Born to Lose You was released Mar. 3 by Creation Records

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ian Lovdahl, Author

Comments (0)

All Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest