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ANYONE who's a reality junkie, who demands authenticity (whatever the hell that might mean) over all, will miss the point of this entirely. Swervedriver are a bunch of daydream believers with an eye on the shimmering horizon and their heads filled with what is still the best blank generation fantasy of them all - the open road.
They define their version of this dream and then get drunk on it: the hazy image of an endless highway to Noplace Special stretching out under a bright blue sky, the desert and the diners along the way, the hugely attractive shiftlessness and resultant freedom. The Call of the (American) Wild, with all it's attendant mythology, is bound to be strong for a pack of hardcore hedonists in a land where can't drive for more than two miles without yet another electricity sub-station or Happy Eater rearing up in front. And if you said you'd call rather a song about travelling up the A3 in a Ford Cortina I'd call you a liar, or reckon you had a pretty warped idea of this authenticity thing. If we're talking romance and dreams, a beat-up Chevy or whatever is far sexier, right?
Swervedriver don't sing about the road, of course, at least not in any Jack Kerouac/Robert Pirsig kind of way, even if their tunes do have gas-soaked titles like "Juggernaut Rides" and "Son Of Mustang Ford", but the feel takes you there, the wind in your hair, the sun on your bare arm with the window wound right down and the stereo turned way up. They're an open-topped, careering freewheel of distortion and sweet melody and they feel bloody great
Were any other band to have ago at songs like these, they'd get it all wrong by trying to bully them in to some kind of dramatic significance. They'd pump them up to three times their proper size, and in all the wrong places. Swervedriver might make a lot of densely-layered noise, but it's controlled, and tonight they go at it more lightly than usual. Bass player Adi surveys the packed room, says' he'd like to thank Nirvana for canceling, and then they're off on their blissed-out roller coaster ride with "Sci-Flyer", with its wadding of doubleknit guitars lifted by some hypnotic chiming, and fuzzed and flanged with many pedals as you'd find in a Dutch bicycle factory.
"Sandblasted" is just that, but it's also a brilliant drag, impossibly heavy, with a gravitational pull like sand around the ankles. "Rave Down" is an(other) addictive joyride and the only time Adam let's his blissed-out vocal rise above a murmur. Here he gives it a sudden pistol-whipping through the sand storm of distortion and leads on into a cocky, headlong rush for oblivion. "Son Of Mustang Ford" has the kind of central riff that could quite easily embarrass me into some air guitar heroics and works on a dynamic which is nothing less than one compulsive, reckless hurtle towards a smashing, fucked-up end.
Still, they don't all move like that. "Deep Seat" opens with a dreamy recollection of "Houses of the Holy" and keeps it's back straight throughout, while "Sunset" is gently burnished rather than white-hot soldered, noise gone all woozy. It's moments like this I suspect for the first time ever that this lot like The Bryds and even Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, along with Dinosaur Jr and other members of the hairy horde.
It's a simple but powerful romance, this road thing, and, if the eruptive pockets of serious moshing are any gauge, one easily and immediately understood. Me, I've just been taken for a ride too. And it was smashing.

Pic: Stephen Sweet

Pic: Piers Allardyce

Originally Appeared in Melody Maker? Copyright © Melody Maker?