Monday, October 5, 2009

Album Review: Ups And Downsides by The Swellers

The Swellers have just released what will be their most commercial album of their career, Ups And Downsizing. While still sounding very much like The Swellers of old that I loved so much; the Flint, Michigan punk rockers softened up a bit. Don’t worry Swellers fans, like I said….it was only a bit.

First let me get straight to the stuff I did not enjoy and am disappointed in. There’s not much, but I have this need to put it out there. “Stars” is really bad attempt at a ballad. It starts off acoustic and then leads into a ‘80s hair band metal electric guitar solo. I get it Swellers, you have a cheesey and sensitive side. I’m just not feeling it on that one. 

There also some fillers that were okay, but not what I feel is their best work. The ‘90s style pop punk track, “Do You Feel Better Yet”, sounds very generic.  I can’t pinpoint what it lacks, but something’s not there to give it the punch it needs. “Feet First” is another album filler that reminds me of something on an Offspring album. Perhaps if you love Offspring, you’ll enjoy it. Again, being that I am an old fan of The Swellers, I am used to better efforts.

All that being said, the rest of Ups And Downsizing is fantastic. My biggest fear that The Swellers would sound like a male fronted Paramore when signed to Fueled By Ramen were put to rest. They did not lose their punk rock sensibilities, nor did they stay away from harder punk as evident by “The Iron”. It is a quick two and half minute Rancid meets Rise Against punk rock gem. It follows the theme of nothing is hopeless and anything can be overcome, which is actually the theme of most of the songs on Ups And Downsizing.

Another fast, old school 90s punk rock style track on the album that I absolutely loved is “Dirt”. It is the sound that I have always loved from The Swellers.  It’s hardcore punk meets the rock stylings of bands like Rise Against, while being just unthreatening enough for Paramore’s audience not to be afraid of it. The Swellers may also be the only Fueled By Ramen band to use the lyric “Motherfuckers” in a song. I love it.

 The Swellers

The same great pop meets punk balance can be can found on “Fire Away”, their first single off Ups And Downsizing. It is hard enough for the old Swellers fans, but once again approachable enough for new fans. You will love the punk rock like breaks and the catchy chorus you can sing along with. Speaking of pop punk, “Sleepers” is the best pop punk track on Ups And Downsizing. Just give it a listen and you’ll hear. You will catch yourself singing along like a thirteen year old girl at her first Warped Tour.

Current Swellers fans, you probably already have this album and are going to love it no matter what a review suggests. For those not familiar with The Swellers, know that Ups And Downsizing is their more pop album in comparison to their 2007 release, My Everest. I still prefer My Everest, but am not disappointed with their new album and the new heights Fueled By Ramen will undoubtedly take them to. Be sure to check their Myspace page for tour dates with Paramore.

Review originally published on Double Stereo. For more great music, blogs, videos and downloads, check out

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