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Chasing The Wind
Starting with Chasing The Wind, the album opens with a pretty heavy rocker. The raw rock produced by the band is something we recognize from earlier days and what earned them praise for their live shows. While the song is pretty good it doesn’t really leave a lasting impression.
The album continues with Away which is a decent track even though it takes a little while for it to take off. The grungy song is mid-tempo and has an interesting composition. A little more upspeed probably wouldn’t have hurt the song, but the contrast between the verses & chorus is pretty clever.
On Clearview we hear why this band is such a promise. A little less distortion and shredding guitars, but more focus on the song’s buildup and the melodic arrangement of the song. There’s still a raw edge and Hedges’ vocals are slightly reminiscent of Eddie Vedder’s at times but the song is smoothly building up and getting more intense, and it just has some really great hooks. One of the best songs on the album.
And Gomorra shows a little change of pace and the sentimental, more intimate approach works quite well for Swim. While it contrasts their powerful rock anthems it provides a chance for them to develop more variety on the album this way. And Gomorra is a real album track and the signature cello by T. Miller is a strong and clever addition to this excellent song. When the song transfers into the rock anthem-like music we are used to, you’ll understand why this track is the best of both worlds for Swim.
The hook-filled Archaic Smile is a good option for a radio single. It has a nice flow and is mainstream enough to have a decent shot on the airwaves. The vocals are strong, and the musical composition is built up carefully and works to the climax chorus that really gives this song the edge it needs to shine.
Is This Home?
The post-grunge rocker Is This Home? with some slight nu-metal influences reminds me of Our Lady Peace a lot. The music has this kind of overwhelming approach that makes you experience it to its fullest extent when you really get into it. Is This Home? is a good track for such an experience.
Stride is another rock anthem Swim-style. This is what they used to do, and what they still do. You can hear the raw energy and the focused power that they use in their critically acclaimed live shows. On this track it really works, and the rawness gives the song an extra, alternative, edge.
More Than This
There’s a really cool riff in More Than This, not to mention some killer hooks. The band really does well on this track and shows they are a solid rock band and though Hedges strains his vocals a little too much at times, it kinda works for this track. More Than This is one of the better tracks in the genre today.
Nothing To Hide
The clever melodic lines in Nothing To Hide which shows some U2-type influences are nicely worked out, while the cello and the rhythm guitar build up the tension. The track builds up ‘brick by brick’ almost which causes the listener to find something more/new every time (s)he gets further into the song. Nothing To Hide obviously is one of the strongest songs on “Safe Unless”.
When it comes to Rise I’m not impartial as it is my favorite song by this band as of today. The Pearl Jam-y feel to the track works really well and the build up is quite strong. Joe Hedges really gets into this song and his strong vocals perfectly emphasize the mood of the song. The contrast between the louder parts where he almost screams and the more melodic parts where his vocals soar high and strong is very nicely played out and the music fits to it like a charm.
The soulful Kings brings this album to a close perfectly. The build up is magical with Hedges strong vocals and Miller’s cello work. The emotional deliverance gives something extra to the excellent lyrics and the band works this song beautifully. Great way to end this album.
With 11 new tunes that show maturity and clever compositions, Swim has found their groove. The hook-filled powerrock is balanced by a couple of gentler songs and it makes “Safe Unless” a solid rock album that has a lot of potential. With “Safe Unless”, Swim obviously scores with the audience and with their talent and tenacity this isn’t the last we hear from them.