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Driving Force


SWERVEDRIVER are terrible. Yes, terrible, dictionary definition four: "causing awe, formidable". The sheer urgency of their turbocharged roadhouse blues is overpowering; the mixed moods of poignancy, nostalgia and loss are converted into... fury? Aggression? Not exactly. Desperation is the word. There's always been a certain motorway romance about Swervedriver, a touch of "Bat Out Of Hell" / "Born To Run"last-chance-on-the-highway melodrama. "But steady on a minute," I hear you cry, "are you talking about the same Swervedriver?" Time to explode a few myths.
Myth one: Swerved river are an alrighHsh bunch of crusties who chanced upon a Creation deal, but aren't really worth bothering to check out. Fact: no one else has come closer to replicating the planet- pulverising power of MBV's "You Made Me Realise". Tonight, Swervedriver arrive in this godforsaken ghost town feeling jetlagged after returning from America (which seems as good a metaphor for their sound as I'm likely to come up with), and some mischievous swine has stolen half their effects pedals, but they still manage to turn in one of the most unrelentingly thunderous performances I've seen all year.
Myth two: Swervedriver are ugly. Okay, they'll never see their 21 t birthdays again, and they may get fewer groupies than the journo scum who write about them. But Adam and Adrian (black dreads/blond dreads) are a picture of pure Warholian symmetrical cool, and at least as pretty as Everett True.
Myth three: All the songs sound like "Rave Down" and "Rave Down" sounds like HuskerDu playing Dinosaur. Well, you've got me there. As far as influences go, Dinosaur and the Du are obvious, right down to the mock-yankee accent which Adam affects. "Sandblast", the excellent new single (which miraculously appears on the radio the moment we enter the hotel), has the same rainwashed melancholy as Dinosaur's "Yeah We Know". But Dinosaur are too often neutered by the lazy wackiness which inevitably arises from being a Rich Kid's Toy. Swervedriver can't offord the excess baggage of wackiness: it's all too serious for that. Sa Swervedriver blow the bollocks off Dinosaur, along with any other useless dangly bits, streamline their shoddy poignancy and use it to fuel a Du-style full-on headlong assault.
"Son Of Mustang Ford" remains Swerved river' s finest five minutes: this is the song that should've been playing on the stereo during the car crash scene in "Wild At Heart". One poor soul takes the implicit death wish too literally and stagedives himself straight into an ambulance with a broken neck. That's what I call "blown away". As a fellow Creation band would put it, Fucking Drivin' Or What?
They run me right down too. Tyre tracks all across my back, for sure. If you'll be so kind as to imagine you haven't read this word in every mendacious review of a mediocre band ever written, you'll allow me to conclude that Swervedriver are literally awesome. A 16 megaton Silver Machine with no hand brake. Don't say I didn't warn you: just take care crossing the rood.

Pic: Mike Morton

Originally Appeared in Melody Maker Copyright © Melody Maker.