Photo: Kevin Chambers / Courtesy of Clarion Call Media

Swoll Reveals Subtle Power via “Shudder to Think” (premiere)

Electronic rockers Swoll craft a powerful song in "Shudder to Think" that moves beyond boundaries.

Swoll are Matt Dowling (vocals), Ben Schurr (bass), Erik Sleight (baritone guitar), Zak Forrest (lights) and the collective release their latest effort, Unwound on 27 September via Blight Records. “Shudder to Think” exemplifies the power of Swoll.

Buoyed by deeply emotional vocals and shimmering, shivering backing tracks, the tune is the sound of trucks moving down American freeways in the middle of the night, youths swaying and swaggering between the promise of tonight and the frustration of tomorrow morning. Swoll make us believe in something beyond the front door in an age when we find ourselves increasingly closed in, nihilistic, apathetic and determined not to hope for anything better than keystrokes and likes.

Dowling says, “‘Shudder to Think’ stands out to me as the most off-the-cuff song on the record. Most of the songs have a fairly prescribed structure going into tracking, but this one really was just a progression that we thought could go on and on, and potentially (hopefully) not get boring. I love songs that can pull that off, and I was temporarily obsessed with undertaking that challenge. I also felt like the record needed something like that to break up the song-i-ness to which I tend to gravitate.

“Somewhat coincidentally, I used the words ‘Shudder to Think’ while demoing vocals. This is probably because I subconsciously love the phrase ‘Shudder to Think’, which of course I became keen to through the band Shudder to Think. Like Unwound, Shudder to Think was a forward-thinking and largely under-appreciated band, existing mainly during the ’90s. They are very different bands aesthetically, but they both tended to push themselves into uncomfortable territory, which is something I admire about both. That’s a lot of what the song ‘Shudder to Think’ is about: embracing the uncomfortable, but more from a psychological perspective than anything. We all tend to build mechanisms to avoid the uncomfortable in a deeply unconscious way. ‘Shudder to Think’ is about charging right towards the discomfort within the psyche with a spear in hand.”