Monday, 14 November 2016

Album Review: Last Time I Swear by Splitters


Splitters are a new band from Detroit, Michigan, featuring members of Break Anchor, Due North and Cheapshow. This November they are releasing their debut album Last Time I Swear, on For The Love Of Punk Records. My good pal Lauren Mills of Mills On Wheels PR suggested I check this album out claiming that I'll love it. She was not wrong.


Last Time I Swear gets going with a track named Horrible Terrible. The song starts out slowly with some soft guitar chords and a quiet but strained vocal. Of course it doesn't take long for the full band to kick in and we are treated to some great mid-tempo punk rock in a similar vein to Elway or Arms Aloft. Horrible Terrible is about knowing all your shortcomings but refusing to change. It finishes strongly with a big gang vocal ending singing the lines "I'm A Serpent Sick With Sin And I Cannot Repent, I'm A Serpent Sick With Sin And I Will Not Repent." The next song, Black Tar, continues the big sing-a-long theme. Like all the best mid-western style punk rock, the track is full of soulful hooks that will get a crowd really involved with the song. Black Tar is a really sad song telling the story (hopefully fictional) of a girl going through a very hard time who eventually takes her own life. Songs like this, although are sometimes are hard to listen to given the subject matter, are good in helping people who suffer with mental health issues to realise they are not alone. The song Cheap returns to the start slow, get fast style that Horrible Terrible used at the start of the album. Splitters lead singer Ben's vocals really come into their own on this track. Whether it's quieter or loud and fast they're always perfectly clear despite the raspiness of them. Kind of like Brendan Kelly on later Lawrence Arms records. I loved the changes in tempo throughout Cheap - starting slowly, picking up some pace before finishing with a slower pace which fuels a big finale to the song. Southbound is the name of the fourth song on Last Time I Swear. Southbound is a track that most punks can relate to. It's about going against the grain no matter how difficult it might seem. Splitters use travelling on the highway as a metaphor of this - "Still Fighting Northbound Traffic Heading South". I like the use of metaphors in songs, they make you think and thinking is good.

The fifth track is the album's title track and Splitters change things up slightly with the intro on this song. The guitars are a bit stabby and bouncy and there is a bit of bluesy sound to them adding a bit of variety. Last Time I Swear is one of the slower songs on the album but definitely one of the most passionate. It builds slowly until Ben's vocals explode into life as he screams about accepting who you are despite any pitfalls you might have. The opening lyrics of the next song, Spinning Tires, grabbed my attention immediately. The line "Dragging Knuckles On The Floor Again Just Like The Day Before" is just a line that anyone stuck in a job that they hate can relate to. The line at the beginning of the second verse is just superb as well - "When Everyone I Know Is Growing Up, I'm Still Doing What's Best For Me." Another hugely relatable lyric for someone like me who seems to spend far too much time explaining to people that I'm happy earning a moderate wage and spending all of my time on trains heading to gigs. Do what you love. The song finishes with the life affirming lyric "It Just Makes More Sense To Me." The penultimate song on Last Time I Swear is named Can Of Gasoline. On this track Ben sings about his frustrations with the falseness of everyday life and wanting to escape from it all. There is a great section towards the end of the track where a second vocalist joins Ben and they sing out a mundane everyday conversation between each other. Really great songwriting. Finally, we come to the final track on the album, Rocking Chair. On this track the band take a look at life as an older person and looking back on the way you've looked after yourself as you've grown up. This is one of the faster paced tracks on Last Time I Swear and is packed with a lot of passion and energy. I love songs that sound like the band really believe in what they are singing and that's certainly the case here.

Splitters have come out of nowhere and put out one of my favourite albums of the year. When I review an album, listening back to songs over and over again whilst reviewing them can sometimes get a bit annoying and a little dull. But that is definitely not the case here, at times I listened to songs probably about ten times in a row and not once did I feel sick of the song. This is an incredible album from a band that will soon be everyone's favourite. Amazing.

Pre-order Last Time I Swear here: https://splittersdetroit.bandcamp.com/

Like Splitters here: https://www.facebook.com/splittersdetroit/