Review by Shannon Shumaker
Last year, Can’t Swim wowed listeners with their diverse debut EP, Death Deserves A Name, and with their first full-length release, the band has simply expanded their sound and emotional range. The gritty, powerful vocals that were a staple on Death Deserves A Name are prominent once more on the new Fail You Again, but this album finds the band exploring a more complex soundscape, swapping powerful half-screams for stunning clean vocals alongside intense instrumentals and paired with incredibly vulnerable lyrics.
Can’t Swim come out swinging on the album’s opening track, “What’s Your Big Idea” with an explosive sound and the opening line, “I’m not sure of anything anymore.” The band picks up right where they left off, but continue to grow and then some. Although Fail You Again starts off dark and aggressive, things become brighter and more beautiful on the second song, “We Won’t Sleep.” Even between just these first two songs, the diversity on this album is obvious, but without coming off as disconnected.
The third track, “$50,000,000” is one of the first that really showcases the dynamic vocals on Fail You Again. Vocalist Chris LoPorto transitions easily from softer and more reserved clean vocals to gritty and more explosive growls within seconds, and the band follows suit with ease. What follows a few songs later are the soft and emotional, “Quitting,” and unpredictable “Hey Amy,” which only prove the band’s capabilities once more. Although each song is very diverse and strong in its own way, it doesn’t stop the album from sounding like one cohesive piece of music. If anything, it feels like Can’t Swim have taken everything that made their debut EP strong and just amplified it.
Vocally, these songs evoke emotion with ease, but if it weren’t for the way that the rest of the band ebbs and flows along with those emotions, these songs wouldn’t hit half as hard. “Hey Amy” is a great example of this, as the strongest part of the song comes within the first minute, when the full band really explodes. The following song, “Stranger” is strong for this reason as well. In fact, the haunting and heartbreaking “Stranger” is easily one of the high points of Fail You Again. Not only is this track emotionally powerful in lines like, “Oh god, I always felt like you were such a stranger,” but it also packs a punch musically. Much like “Hey Amy,” the best moments of this song are when it ebbs and flows, exploding before coming back down again.
From “Stranger,” Fail You Again just seems to get more and more powerful. “One Shot,” for instance, is massive, hosting a big group vocal part that alongside strong drums that will certainly catch your attention. And the contrast between “One Shot” and the incredibly soft, “Kid” is remarkable. It’s night and day, but never feels disconnected. Much like the rest of the album, “Kid” is strong lyrically as well, touching on overcoming hardships and picking yourself up off the floor in lines like, “You have to hit rock bottom before you open your eyes.”
Much like the band’s debut EP, Fail You Again is full of twists and turns, most notably in the last few songs. While “Show Me” is a bit brighter than the songs that surround it, the bass-heavy closing song, “All The Moves We Make are in The Dark” is explosive once more. Easily the best thing about Fail You Again is its diversity. Each song is very uniquely Can’t Swim, but without becoming tired, boring or flat by any means. The sound that the band found on their debut EP and have perfected on this first full-length packs a punch, both sonically and lyrically, making it impossible to ignore.
Listen to "Stranger"
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