Can’t Swim – ‘Thanks But No Thanks’

By Aaron Jackson

Since first raising eyebrows seven years ago with the release of their debut EP ‘Death Deserves a Name’, Can’t Swim have remained one of the scene’s most consistent bands. Bolstered by the constant support of Pure Noise Records, they have continued to deliver and impress with each release. This is all despite a small handful of lineup tweaks and plenty of experimentation with their sound over the years. Now, the New Jersey four-piece are back and kicking off 2023 with their fourth full-length effort ‘Thanks But No Thanks’.

Off the bat, standout moments are, naturally, found on the singles released in the run-up to the album’s release. ‘me vs me vs all of y’all’ and opener ‘Nowhere, Ohio’ boast bouncy verses, colossal choruses and enough gritty venom throughout to ensure the whole thing doesn’t sound too squeaky clean. As an extra treat for fans, axeman Danny Rico has published guitar tutorials for both of these tracks on the band’s YouTube channel, making for compelling viewing. Rico also provides interesting insights into songwriting, gear details and the studio process. The videos are worth a watch, and hopefully, there are more to come.

Akin to the previously mentioned singles, the cathartic ‘ELIMINATE’ has enough beans to whip any crowd into a frenzy and provides a welcome injection of pace and energy towards the latter stages of the tracklist. Oppositely, bowing out with the (kind of) eponymous ‘thx but no thx’, is a sobering end to the album. The motif “I’ll say goodbye for the last time / Don’t keep any lights on, I’m not coming back” is a pretty haunting closing sentiment.

It’s in the forlorn that Can’t Swim so often thrive, and that’s no different here. The first single dropped from ‘Thanks But No Thanks’ was the devastating ‘i heard they found you face down inside your living room’. Make no mistake, it’s brilliant, but it’s also the most emotional and sombre piece that the band have penned, bar none. The lyrics tackle processing the suicide of a loved one, and feelings of being unable to live without them. It’s an important moment in the band’s discography, with vocalist Chris LoPorto explaining “I hope it can provide some sort of comfort to others who have gone through this similar circumstance.”

All that said, the band’s historically dark iconography which often embraces the macabre is, for the most part, alleviated in this latest venture. Speaking about the record, LoPorto reveals “This was honestly the most fun we’ve ever had making an album. We’ve reached a point as a band where we’re able to stop overthinking and instead just do what feels right. I think it’s brought a lot of joy back into our music.”

Therein lies the crux of this album. With ‘Thanks But No Thanks’, they have loosened the shackles around their craft, and the result is a record that sounds more casual, in a positive sense. Can’t Swim are truly coming into their own, and enjoying the process. With an upcoming 25-city US tour in support of contemporaries Free Throw, and the band teasing “some UK shows” recently on Twitter, it’s set to be a busy year.

The future remains bright for a band relishing the present. ‘Thanks But No Thanks’ captures this notion swimmingly.

AARON JACKSON

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