With 2015’s I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, Swervedriver joined the ranks of classic, shoegaze-affiliated artists who have returned with strong reunion albums, often more than a decade after the peak of their best-known releases. Swervedriver, like their contemporaries Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, and Ride, released an album that kept clear ties to the music of their past while willing to adventure some into new sonic territory.
On the band’s second album since reuniting, Future Ruins, Swervedriver deliver 10 tracks with a similarly modernized nostalgia for the heyday of fuzz-heavy, dense, shoegaze-style rock. While likely not an album to expand the group’s fanbase, Future Ruins, released via Dangerbird Records, gives more for fans of the band to pour over, even if not quite in the same vein as the band’s most well-loved releases, like 1993’s Mezcal Head.
One of the greatest strengths of many of the 90s acts’ reunion releases has been an updated sonic palette, both modernizing recording technology and usually offering larger budgets to bands that have since gained recognition. That remains true on Future Ruins, with Swervedriver capitalizing on an increasingly full and detailed capturing of their sound.
The album veers away from the energy and harder-rocking material of the group’s earlier releases and favors slower-moving tracks. It’s not a ride of excitement, but there are rewards for those who choose to take it. Swervedriver makes more straight-forward, pop-aware efforts with “Spiked Flower,” “The Lonely Crowd Fades in the Air,” and “Drone Lover,” but most of the album maintains a mellow pace and preference for spacey effects.
Future Ruins takes few missteps; the struggle lies more in establishing the importance of this music. Much of the time, the songs here can be discounted as worthy but uneventful continuations of what Swervedriver and others have already achieved.
Outside of the more accessible, heavier tracks, sonic explorations on “Theeascending,” where the dragging pace opens into a spacey, noise rock ending, and “Everybody’s Going Somewhere and No-One’s Going Anywhere,” which opts for more minimally arranged psychedelia, provides the album’s most original and interesting material. Longtime fans of the band and those interested in the shoegaze genre will likely find this a worthwhile listen.