Swanton Bombs - Mumbo Jumbo And Murder
In the eighties Hulk Hogan would bounce off of the ropes and drop his leg onto a prone opponent. 1 – 2 – 3. The match was over and the crowd went crazy. Kids today want more than a leg drop - they want risk of permanent paralysis! Protagonists now hurl themselves from the top rope twisting in mid air and using their whole body as a weapon. Such a move is the devastating Swanton Bomb – but it’s also the name of two chipper young fellows from London making a racket with drums and a guitar.
On first listen it would be easy to categorise them as a limp version of That Fucking Tank. The bombs clearly don’t posses their aggression and brain shredding power. But after further examination it’s clear that whilst TFT’s roots are in hardcore punk the Swanton Bombs are making their plays from the blues handbook.
Both members are very technically proficient and able to find a groove to settle into. Even with such a love of fills and flamboyance they always return to the riff that underpins each song. They have a solid understanding of structure and texture; knowing when to push hard - but they also understand the power and anticipation generated by silence.
Unfortunately there are two fairly major problems with this record. Firstly some of their grooves are just not very interesting. Secondly after an entire album Dominic’s vocals begin to grate. He isn’t the greatest singer - and by the time his world weary voice kicks in on album close ‘Tanks’ he comes across as a disinterested sixteen year old shoe shop assistant. He’s not “bovered” and this lack of enthusiasm quickly rubs off on the listener.
They show off their musical gifts on every track. But when the song doesn’t work or vocals drift into the dismal no amount of swift-fingered dexterity is going to save the day. ‘Viktoria’, ‘Crowbar’, ‘Doom’ and ‘Waistland’ run back to back as four tracks where everything falls into place – had they formed an EP this would be high scoring stuff. But it’s sandwiched between lacklustre filler material. A classic case of good-band / bad-album syndrome.
The novelty wears pretty thin, pretty quickly. More time writing songs and less singing (or moving to a three piece with a more versatile vocalist) would improve matters greatly. They are a band loaded with potential but this is an album of peaks and troughs that most listeners will be using their MP3 players to prune.