Katie and Allison Crutchfield are undeniably the current queens of punk pop – a title that has been a long time coming, as together the twins have logged in many collective years of music playing, perfecting the art of simple and powerful songwriting along the way. Though they have distinct similarities, the twins eventually diverged into their own musical projects, Katie Crutchfield creating quieter, understated punk pop with Waxahatchee, and Allison Crutchfield forming Swearin’, a fully outfitted punk band. With Swearin’ Allison Crutchfield has steered her deliberate, confessional songwriting style down a more rambunctious path, mixing it with a less tame, grungier punk sound. On “Surfing Strange”, the band displays the full range of their multi-faceted punk personality, experimenting with all ranges of vocal intensity and heavy instrumentation to create an enormous and fun album.
The release has an inexhaustible energy to it, and every song is explosive in its own right. Ultimately a fast-paced and aggressive album, this explosive impact is ingrained in their sound, and the ability to instantaneously erupt into a mass of fuzz has become their signature. Tracks like “Dust in the Gold Sack” seem to get bigger as they go on, layering on all kinds of ricocheting fuzzy guitar sounds. That isn’t to say that the album doesn’t have its more subdued moments, and songs like “Loretta’s Flowers” manage to sidestep to quieter places without dropping the energy. This endless drive the album has can largely be attributed to the vocals, which are shared between the dramatic sincerity of Allison Crutchfield and the assertive, sneering vocals of guitarist Kyle Gilbride.
The band, comprised of a group of nomadic friends, tour endlessly and write on the road, and as a result this release has a certain spirit to it, seeming to encompass all the joys and frustrations that would come with being constantly in transition. Hopefully that lifestyle will continue to inspire them to create more albums like this one.