I’m not one to partake in salacious gossip (*side eyes emoji*), but it seems like talking about scrappy Philadelphia lo-fi heroes Swearin’ without talking about their storied past is almost impossible. So…after a couple of brilliant albums, including 2013’s magnificent Surfing Strange, singer/guitarist Alison Crutchfield and band mate Kyle Gilbride, who were dating, split up, somewhat acrimoniously if reports are to be believed, and the band was put on indefinite hiatus. Crutchfield went off and did her own thing, releasing a solo album in 2017 that she described as “visceral, a huge part of me processing these changes I’m going through”, whilst Gilbride engineered a host of albums by bands like Girlpool, Waxahatchee (Crutchfield’s sister!) and Quarterback. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, they released a new album last year as Swearin’, the great Fall Into The Sun, apparently over their differences and ready to get back on board the good ship indie to charm us all again with their sweet lo-fi noise.

And charm us they do. From the off they mean business, there’s no slow songs tonight (slightly disappointed not to hear the wonderfully delicate ‘Anyway’ from their new album), there’s just bangerz. Crutchfield and Gilbride split the singing duties song by song pretty evenly between them (they very rarely sing together on the same track), Crutchfield’s sweet baritone vocals slightly lost in a murky mix, Gilbride’s ‘acquired taste’ voice bright and clear. Launching into the new album’s opener ‘Big Change’, they don’t let up for the next 45 mins or so. They sound like the wistful soundtrack to an American high school set film (in fact, they would have done a brilliant job of soundtracking Netflix’s recent series Sex Education); indeed the opening line is “high school summer vacation, on heavy rotation, it spills through broken PA speakers, we are all older now”, the feeling of looking back on better times is heady on this freezing January night.

Most of the set is drawn from Fall Into The Sun, standouts including a Kyle-led ‘Dogpile’ and the brilliant ‘Margaret’ which plays out a relationship breaking up, plain speaking lines like “if you and I are scarcely connected to each other, does that necessitate some enlightenment on my part?” cutting through the tight as guitars and drums. Songs are short and punchy, built on a base of thrashed guitars and driving bass and drums, no in between song chatter, just track after track of indie goodness. We get a couple of older tracks, with ‘Dust in the Gold Sack’ from Surfing Strange particularly well received, but it’s the new tracks that really stand out, reminding me of why I fell for them first time round. There’s just something really comforting about a couple of guitars, bass and drums, less than brilliant singers but brilliant lyricists, giving it their all for the slightly retro indie cause, that really gets me – I think it’s a nostalgia thing.

They finish on the superb ‘Grow Into A Ghost’, another break up rocker, Crutchfield singing “I hang round with old friends/and they unknowingly remind me/of who I was before we first met”, which if set to an acoustic guitar or piano would probably prick my tear ducts into action, but here, set to a jaunty guitar bop it brings a cathartic smile to my face instead. And with that they’re gone, a tight 45mins of pure indie joy with a sadness and regret in the background. In other words, perfection for the depths of winter then.

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