Album review: V

Vancouver-based band Swim Team reimagining punk rock

It’s an overplayed trope that punk is often times too simplistic. People will make cracks regarding the three power chord pop-punk and the old school punk rock that is so emblematic of the genre. Some are purists that think this approach is simply a method to embody the aggression and passion commonly associated with the genre, while others aren’t afraid to challenge the norms that frankly represent the style. Swim Team falls in the latter category.

In fact, they challenge those aforementioned norms so much so that perhaps the label of punk loses any meaningful application. The closest punk parallels can be drawn to geological and spiritual predecessors Nomeansno, but that comparison doesn’t take into account the mellow and subdued proclivities that are adorned on this record.

When it comes down to it, V is a record that doesn’t neatly fit in any sort of box, and that is part of the reason that it’s so good. The album is frenetic in the best way possible. The guitar playing and bass are consistently at odds with one another, rather than working together to perpetuate a melody or sense of rhythm they are often incongruent and distinctly different. This style is aided and abetted by the nature of the songwriting of the album. The composition is sporadic, it’s rarer to have a song that adheres to normative musical sensibilities than it is to have a song that finds the tempo deviating away from itself or the structure of the song being completely incongruent from anything close to a standard verse-chorus-verse structure. Such is the case respective to both those ideas in the same order during tracks Cardinal and V.

While the aggressive punk ethos may not present itself, stylistically the album is far more aligned with post-hardcore music than it is alternative rock. The music is jittery, constantly moving between the highs and lows rather than embracing abrasive tendencies. Such is the case on the song Garden, one of the few times on the album that does indulge in a coarse breakdown. The following track Empire showcases the overdriven gain laden vocals of lead singer and bassist Dorothy Neufeld overtop of an instrumental that has little semblance of anything that is comparatively punk.

Punk rock is becoming increasingly more associated with the anger and distortion that is often emblematic with the music instead of the rebellious nature of the music itself. While on the surface V may not sound punk per se, it completely embodies the punk motif of, “Fuck you.”

8.9/10 – finding out that you actually like the rusty taste of your new sink