A unique, hugely enjoyable, and fresh listen.
Emanating from Philadelphia’s promising and thrilling underground scene and being championed by Lame-O Records, The Superweaks bring a catchy and hugely enjoyable sound to the contemporary punk scene. Combing elements of power pop and alternative rock, 2015 debut album Bad Year introduced the band with a grungy boot through the door. Now, with Better Heavens, this sound comes with a bittersweet edge given the tragic circumstances of the album’s release, coming a mere 6 months after the death of bassist Corey Bernard, resulting in a powerful, heartwarming, and infectiously enjoyable tribute to their fallen brother.
It’s to the band’s total advantage that Better Heavens starts off so strong. The vivacious ‘Paralyzed’ kicks off proceedings with a real kick up the arse, perfectly encapsulating the previous Superweaks sound. “Could take all damn day to cheer me up,” laments singer Evan Bernard on the title track – simply structured yet beautifully executed, with a chugging guitar line and brisk drumming to push the verses on and power chords in a wonderfully mellow chorus, it may just have a claim to being the best rock song of the year. Its emotional punch comes from the reflective lyrics regarding depression, separation, and grief, as evident in the wonderfully heartfelt bridge: “You call me / I need you / I promise you I still do,” “The seasons remind you / We’re too depressed to stay true.” Yet another glorious guitar solo echoes out before it closes with some well-timed and delightful keys over the top for an uplifting close that inspires optimism and hope. Perfection? It may just be – ‘Better Heavens’ is one damn incredible song.
The more riff-driven ‘Glowing’ and particularly ‘Run Away’ show a grungier side that wouldn’t have gone unchallenged in the famed Seattle scene of the 90s, showing a fantastic maturity and confidence despite their relative youth. Whilst the overall style may be pretty set, they allow room for experimentation within their sound. Keys and synths on ‘Oh God (We’re All So Miserable Now)’ and ‘I’ll See Myself Out’ are particularly welcome, freshening the music so as to not make The Superweaks sound too much like The Superweezers carving a unique identity that pays homage to what has come before. Nothing is truly fresh in today’s music, but The Superweaks make some things truly feel different for once.
Better Heavens is latterly bolstered by numerous fantastic tracks: ‘Sooner Or Later’ has a catchy hook despite more downbeat lyrics; ‘Diamond Mind’ explodes in bursts but remains perfectly poised so as to not be lost among the enthusiastic and crunching surroundings; ‘No Future’ and ‘Come Home’ are wild and brisk listens which showcase The Superweaks at their most excitable and energetic. But, if anything truly matches up to ‘Better Heavens,’ it is final track ‘Junkie’s Gone To Heaven.’ In true musical epic fashion it’s over twice as long as anything else on the record and manages to combines its best elements into one magnificent track. Catchy chorus? Equally as catchy riffs? Powerful chords to drive it along? Thunderous drumming? Synths? Oh indeed. What more could you want from your rock music?
I don’t know if I’ve felt so excited listening to an album all year as I have with Better Heavens. Sure, some great bands have put out some great music in 2016, but nothing has felt as different, unique, and, most importantly, fresh as this from The Superweaks. Who said that you had to rip up the rule to make something truly different? Cherrypicking the best bits to make their own unique rule book, for these guys, the sky is the limit.
Better Heavens is out now via Lame-O Records