OUT – Swim Buddies

3 out of 5

Label: Comedy Minus One

Produced by: Mike Roche

Passionate as all get-out, this is anthemic hook-filled rock that’s partway between Thermals’ pounding earnestness, and Wax’s surf-y sloppiness. While OUT nail riff after riff, there’s a bit of a muddle as to what the anthem is their passionately shouting about, which leaves things a bit emotionally hollow.

But: as proven out by their excellent next album, the promise of ideas holding up these hooks is formalizing on Swim Buddies, including a vague structure that sees the album’s A-side leaning more into innocence and silliness, and the B-side touching on more morbid topics, and a very Silkworm-esque history-checking track. That the lyrics eventually circle back around to referencing the first track suggests there’s truly some meat to this and not just accidental sequencing… but the group would still have some maturing to do to combine all the vocal energy and general punchiness into something that hits beyond just being damned catchy and toe-tappy.

Thankfully, this is very catchy and toe-tappy, and if not for an over-abundance of shouted verses that can’t help but seem a bit cheeky when put up against a kind of sober, working-man vibe to the disc (I mean, I’m sure there’s something more to shouting ‘CHAINFIGHT,’ but maybe not), it’d be easier to put the whole album into a pile of groups who arrived with permanent sneer… but at the same time, that would counter the sincerity of OUT’s passion.

So, though imperfect, it’s way more promising than some similar acts, and again, we now have a fantastic second album that’s made good on that, also retroactively making Swim Buddies a worthwhile revisit to soak up the hooks with the satisfaction of what’s to come.