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Swanton Bombs Mumbo Jumbo and Murder Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Go see them, as on this evidence they’ll be a great watch.

Mike Diver 2010

Bands to have written a song bearing the same name as its creators are fairly thin on the ground: Black Sabbath, Talk Talk, Fleetwood Mac… Swanton Bombs. That’s some company for the London duo to be keeping.

Of course, these ragged-edged, blues-punk-rock types are unlikely to ever make the long-lasting impression of the aforementioned triad of influential outfits – “of course” because, well, if they were going to shift significant units you’d have probably heard of them already, as this is the pair’s second album. Having not heard the first, these ears can’t tell if there’s been a significant step forward on this collection; but such is the band’s elemental approach – guitar, loud; drums, loud; vocals, usually loud – that it’s unlikely much has changed.

Stomp-along friendly though much of Mumbo Jumbo and Murder is, little lingers in the memory once the experience has ended. Ultimately this is the record’s undoing – there’s no doubt that Dominic McGuinness – brother of Domino-signed Eugene, and similarly toned of vocal – and Brendan Heaney can shape an enjoyable song with a distinct start-middle-end movement, the sort of fare that’s perfectly accessible. Indeed, fans of acts like The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age and Archie Bronson Outfit will enjoy Swanton Bombs’ unreconstructed, primordial raucousness. But there’s no wow-factor to proceedings, no one song that grabs the listener by the collar and shakes them ‘til they accept this is a band to go the distance.

Divergences from the tried-and-tested do occur, mind: Doom gets a little croon-y towards its climax, and Night Thought slows the pace and stills the bombast, allowing a little romance to shine through. But much is straight-ahead, head-down rocking – nothing to bellow the praises of, but perfectly accomplished given the intention was (presumably) never to achieve anything else. If You Will is a sizzling number – you can almost taste the sweat on it – and lead single Viktoria bears the hallmarks of a cracking live-environment sing-along.

It’s just a shame that there’s not enough individuality or uniqueness on show to set Swanton Bombs apart from so many similarly promising, but not-there-yet, bands playing the country’s so-called toilet circuit. They’re often a ringer for the equally unheralded (and now disbanded) Old Romantic Killer Band, for example. Go see them, as on this evidence they’ll be a great watch; but don’t feel too guilty if you spend your merch money on an extra pint.

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