By: Nerhys Hall
Formed in 2012, New Swears quickly gained a reputation for riotous performances featuring explosions of silly string, confetti, and human pyramids. The Ottawa quartet recently added a fifth member on keys to round out their latest LP Night Mirror.
Though they stay true to their punk roots, New Swears isn’t afraid to expand their horizons and pull from other genres of music. Unlike Night Mirror takes on a country-campfire sound with the band’s use of pedal steel guitar and harmonica. If you follow this band at all, their unpredictability and departure from the sound of their 2017 album And the Magic of Horses won’t come as a surprise.
Overall, Night Mirror is a really fun album to listen to. It definitely sounds more like a country album than a punk or rock album, but that’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, some of the lyrics almost make it sound like the band is trying to satirize and subvert country song tropes while also being quite self-reflective.
Right away the first track, “Bon Voyage”, sets the tone of the album. An upbeat, yet somehow laid back song, you immediately hear the bluesy, country sound and their strong vocal harmonies. Listening to the lyrics, you notice that they’re not exactly the most serious. The second song, “Jesus Take the Wheel”, continues the upbeat, fun feeling. Though it’s the shortest song on the album, you don’t really notice that it’s less than two and a half minutes because all the songs are under four minutes — a very punk thing to do. After a few slower tracks, the next upbeat song is the sixth track, “Bells Corners”. A very easy song to listen to, it gives the listener a nostalgic feeling as the lyrics weave memories of a suburb of Ottawa with the same same as the song title. The next quicker-paced song stands out from the others as an almost entirely instrumental track with a groovy bass solo. The only vocals come in as spoken word saying the song title, “Mambo #6”.
The slower-paced songs break up the energy of the upbeat ones and really bring home the country campfire song feeling. “Concrete Cowboy”, the third song, is a very laid back and relaxed blues-based song. The next song, “Rolling Stone” prominently features the slide steel guitar with a lengthy solo, a groovy beat, and some cool call-and-response moments. “Wheels”, the fifth track, is another nostalgic and reflective song that references several locations across the country. Like many of the other tracks, the lyrics have moments where they are amusing. Track seven, “Everybody Dies”, continues the trend of amusing lyrics, but also subverts country song tropes with the lyrical themes. “Gladstone”, song nine, features a bouncy rhythm and an a cappella section whereas track ten, “Man on my Own” prominently features the slide steel guitar and amusing but reflective lyrics.
One song really stands out from the rest, and that’s the final song, “Angel”. It reminds me a lot of Flight of the Conchords with its amusing lyrics, strong vocal harmonies, and use of falsetto vocals. It’s a quite synth-heavy song, very much unlike the rest of the album, but yet, it fits with New Swears’ style of being very unpredictable and drawing from a multitude of genres.
New Swears’ latest LP, is an absolutely fun ride of mostly country-campfire sounding songs. Any fan of fun music that doesn’t take itself too seriously should definitely check it out.