Skate punk outfit SWMRS seems to have hit the sophomore slump on their second album Berkeley’s on Fire.
SWMRS might be best known for being Billie Joe Armstrong’s son’s band, but they stood on their own on their debut, Drive North, which featured strong hooks and an endearing quirkiness. A lot of that is gone on their new effort, which takes a more political turn and leaves the fun at home. They’ve cleaned up their sound a little too much and have a more pop-forward feeling.
Opening track, “Berkeley’s on Fire,” is a commentary on protests at the school, and the lyrics indicate the rockers find the protesters’ self-satisfaction off-putting. “Trashbag Baby” brings back some of the fun but still sounds too cleaned-up overall. “April in Houston” is the closes thing the band has done to a ballad, and despite the change in tone it actually works as one of the strongest tracks on the album.
If you’re a fan of catchy pop-punk, you probably won’t hate this album, but if what drew you to SWMRS was the band’s odd-man-out messiness, this album isn’t going to feel the same for you.