How often do you hear about a band who manage to land a record deal before they play their first live show? In that respect, Can’t Swim are a curious case – a pleasant anomaly in a famously cut-throat industry. The New Jersey quintet signed to Pure Noise Records shortly after forming in 2015 and since then have progressed from strength to strength – their most significant milestone to date surely being the release of their debut full-length album “Fail You Again”.

Expectations were at an all-time high following the overwhelmingly positive response to Can’t Swim’s prior releases – most significantly so – the singles from this effort. Make no mistake: “We Won’t Sleep” is a certified banger. Versed with a rolling pop-punk sensibility, this single is incredibly catchy, moreover, the chorus is absolutely huge and is sure to linger in your head for days to follow. The album’s opener, “What’s Your Big Idea?” lays the concrete foundations on which the following tracks are built upon. Chunky guitar riffs are integral to Can’t Swim’s sound as it is the sheer tenacity of these riffs (accompanied by a stellar rhythm section that brilliantly furthers this aforementioned tenacity) that intrinsically excite the listener.

What sets these guys apart from the lesser outfits in the pop-punk/alt-rock scene is the sophistication on display in their song writing. Not once do any of the twelve tracks here become polluted by the more aggressive side of Can’t Swim and whilst angst can be found across the clear majority of songs it is always accompanied by stellar melodic awareness – a hallmark of great song writing. Take, for example, “Stranger” (one of the album’s highlights) which one might describe as bipolar – in the best way possible. The song jumps from a lone guitar track and frontman (Chris Loporto) musing the track’s subject matter before instantaneously launching into a juggernaut of a chorus hook. Fascinating craftsmanship that makes for great listening.

Of course, very few debuts are perfect and there is certainly plenty of room for Can’t Swim to grow (with a couple of tracks fading to the auditory background) and they will grow. The faith shown in this bands embryonic record deal is not unfounded – there is a huge amount of promise here, and we can’t wait to see this band develop.

4/5 Bytes.

Aaron Jackson.

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