Effects-Driven Riff Rock
Coming nearly seven years after Swervedriver re-emerged at Coachella after a years-long hiatus, I Wasn’t Born to Lose You represents the band’s first new batch of songs in over 15 years. While the 10-song LP is by no means an earth-shattering or scene-changing release, it showcases a band that still knows how to craft punchy and technically adept rock and roll songs, even after 26 years in the game. Featuring original members Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge alongside longtime member Steve George and newcomer Mikey Jones, the latest iteration of Swervedriver packs quite the punch, adding ample amounts of effects to each of these melodic tracks.
I Wasn’t Born to Lose You does not find Swervedriver taking surprising leaps or showcasing a new sonic dynamic. Instead, the band works within the framework of what they do best, and the results stand up pretty well against even their classic early-90s releases like Raise and Mezcal Head. Swervedriver always sounded a little bit different compared to most of their shoegazing Creation Records brethren like Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive. Instead of layering their tracks in heavy blankets of ethereal atmosphere, the band was more focused on the melody and structure of their songs.
I Wasn’t Born to Lose You shows that Swervedriver are still some of the top riff propagators in indie rock, whether it be with the twinkling, arpeggiated passages heard on “Everso” and “Last Rites,” the downtrodden sludge-fest that is the intro of “Red Queen Arms Race,” or the hooky, staccato guitar lines of “Deep Wound.” For the most part, the riffs and textures could be pulled directly from the band’s mid-90s apex, guiding the songs to interesting, if somewhat predictable, destinations.
The first single from I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, “Setting Sun,” consists of a simple guitar riff which slides back and forth over a shimmering chord arpeggio – which, along with the low-mixed and laid-back vocals, gives it a relaxed, almost-calming ambiance. However, the highlight of the album could very well be the opening track. With a catchy, clean guitar riff opening the verses and Franklin’s earnest vocals joining in, “Autodidact” bursts from the gate, only building more momentum with its climactic chorus and tension-filled instrumental interlude.
Like My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr., Mission of Burma and many other bands from the 80s and 90s that have reunited in the last decade, Swervedriver have only added to their legacy with I Wasn’t Born to Lose You. While some bands seem to be reuniting simply for the cash grab that is a headlining tour and new, haphazardly pieced-together album, Adam Franklin and company did things the right way by taking their time with their newest release.