“We are all older now, and the same things get us going,” Allison Crutchfield sings in the opening lines of Fall Into the Sun, the tour de force reunion LP from Philadelphia punk band Swearin’. After breaking up the band for several years, Crutchfield and co-singer-guitarist Kyle Gilbride, alongside drummer Jeff Bolt, have reunited for their third, and most fully realized, record to date.
On eleven songs that blend ’90s punk with classic rock riffs and newfound singer-songwriter sincerity, the band interweaves a multi-layered, moving narrative of hurt, aging, and reconciliation that draws its energy from the narrative tension between Crutchfield and Gilbride’s starkly different songwriting styles.
Crutchfield lays out the album’s basic narrative arc (disappointment and division followed by growth and maturation that eventually results in peaceful resolution), while Gilbride’s songs–impressionistic and ethereal–offer a vital, opaque alternative perspective, filling in the details to the story Crutchfield is telling.
The self-referential discord alluded to on Swearin’s latest (“You are angry at me/And I get it, you have every right to be)” recalls the high drama of Fleetwood Mac’s greatest records, full of old lovers growing apart while new love blossoms. Crutchfield and Gilbride make great use of this interpersonal claustrophobia: “I see the same six people,” a weary Crutchfield sings in the midst of all, “speak to the same six people.”
Swearin’s third collection is their most musically dynamic, opening up the band’s hallmark fast-paced indie punk template to allow space for Crutchfield’s solo folk chronicles and Gilbridge’s slow-burning grunge dirges.
But the greatest thrill of Swearin’s latest is hearing a band work through the process of rediscovering the joy of making music and telling stories alongside one another after spending a number of years learning more about their own individual art. “No art degree, no conservatory,” Allison sings as she puts her own DIY spin on John Lennon’s “God,” “Just Katie and me.” After a necessary break, Swearin’ has returned as a much different band: newly reflective, open-hearted, self-aware, and more concerned than ever with songcraft. As a result, Fall Into the Sun feels less like a reunion than a rebirth.