Saturday, March 09, 2013

Album Review: Poorly Formed

Title:  Poorly Formed (Fat Wreck Chords, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk)

After a lengthy hiatus, San Francisco’s Swingin’ Utters have kept themselves quite busy the last couple of years, releasing three EPs and two full-length records.  Poorly Formed is the band’s latest full-length and the first to include new bassist Mike Peck and the first to include songs co-written by guitarist Jack Dalrymple.  One would think that these changes, especially the loss of longtime bassist Spike Slawson, would result in a less than stellar record, but that simply isn’t the case with here. 

Poorly Formed is an exceptionally tight and cohesive record that is quintessential Utters while at the same time displaying a growth and added dimensions to the band’s signature sound.  What makes this record work, and makes it better then its predecessor Here, Under Protest is that cohesion.  While Here, Under Protest was a great collection of songs, it felt more like a collection of songs than an album; I’m sure some of this was the result of it being their first full-length record in nearly a decade, during which time they were all busy with other projects, resulting in a record that sounded more like an assortment of songs from said side-projects than a Swingin’ Utters album.  That is not the case with Poorly Formed.  Any dust that had collected during that hiatus has been completely cleared off and the band is now tighter than ever.   

The biggest change with this record is the distinct sound of Jack Dalrymple’s guitar action and songwriting.  Together he and singer Johnny Bonnel co-wrote a large portion of the songs on Poorly Formed adding a fantastic new flare and dimension to the band’s sound.  Now longtime fans need not worry, because this is still a Swingin’ Utters album through and through.  From the opening drum-crash of “The Librarians are Hiding Something” to the closing country notes of “Sevita Sing,” Poorly Formed contains all of the classic Utters’ elements of catchy songs mixing elements of punk, country, folk, and old-time rock ‘n’ roll (and a healthy dose of The Replacements; speaking of which, you've got to love the Utters' nod to the Mats in "In a Video"), with poetic lyrics born of the streets of working class America.  This record is a must for any Utters fan.  

1 comment:

Andrew Fierro said...

Tighter than Five Lessons Learned... Let me listen to it again and then I'll let you know.