Swearin' has hit peak ‘90s-revival with its sophomore record. Surfing Strange is all fuzz, thrashing, imperfect vocals and DIY spirit.
There's also a collective spirit to it, which might have something to do with the relationships within the band. Alison Crutchfield and her sister Katie (of Waxahatchee) got things going with Alison's boyfriend, Kyle Gilbride, plus bassist Keith Spencer and drummer Jeff Bolt. Whatever they're doing, the results sound like a group of musicians with equal influence. Band members trade-off on the vocals, and it inherently keeps things interesting when you have a nearly inaudible male monotone on one track, a nasally shout on the next and a girl-group-gone-punk thing on another.
There's a nice variety on Surfing Strange. “Dust in the Gold Sack” opens with some pretty acoustic guitar and stays toe-tappingly chipper even when the distortion kicks in. Meanwhile, the mid-point of “Melanoma” is a bludgeoning wall of guitar, and “Loretta's Flowers” is a dark and sad lullaby. The diversity is refreshing, when so many other ‘90s-revival groups feel the need to wallow in the muck.
That doesn't mean Surfing Strange is awesomely fuzzy, though. Guitar distortion one of the album's defining characteristics. It might be old news, but Swearin' makes it feel fresh and, more importantly, like so much fun.