The Terrible Children
Independent release, 2011
REVIEW BY: Josh Allen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/11/2011
From an outsider looking in, The Sweeps appear to be a band on the rise. Guitarist Bob Dain, bassist Santiago Torres, and drummer Aaron Medina have earned a burgeoning following in Chicagoland, as well as a reputation for chaotically energetic live performances. But what of their recorded material?
The pop-punk trio’s second release, The Terrible Children, follows their positively received debut EP, Midnight At The Box, which fueled their ascension into the Midwestern rock scene. Recorded in only two days, The Sweeps opted to replicate the raw energy of their live performances with a minimally produced live recording. A good decision, for sure: much like the early Black Keys albums, this strategy amplifies the loose, invigorating style in which they seem to thrive.
Opening twin tracks “Corsettes” and “Clowns” show off this energy front-and-center: throbbing intro bass, a couple of seismic dynamic shifts, and a startlingly simplistic melody. “Hotels” carries the commotion to an even higher degree, as evidenced by Dain’s piercing wail. Once the vocals cease near its halfway point, you’re treated with eerily manufactured phrases from looping effects, bookended by a couple of furious jam sessions. Here and elsewhere, The Sweeps excel with the use of effects and instrumental sections that dot the album.
Unlike the preceding EP, Dain ventures into acoustic territory in The Terrible Children, adding a needed second dimension into the mix. “Bleed For Love,” a standout, single-verse, solo acoustic interlude, is the first such occurrence, sharply contrasting with their body of work to date. Falsetto-laced “Everything Green” and “Guns” attempt to pace the album as well, to moderate success.
Perhaps The Sweeps show their greatest maturity and cohesiveness in closer “The Sound Of Cannons.” The track begins rather unassumingly, with meekly picked acoustic guitar and softly howling backing vocals that belie comparatively fiery lyrics: “All I hear are concussion grenades in my ears.” U2-like guitar riffs accompany an up-and-down, unhurried crescendo to the track’s climax. While the remainder of the album has no shortage of catchy hooks, it’s this finale that exhibits the most depth and ultimately intrigues me the most.
At just nine tracks, The Terrible Children flies by, clocking in at under a half hour. Of course, an album’s merit should be determined by quality and not quantity, but while there’s plenty to like, you can’t help but feel that some tracks end prematurely before fully realizing their potential. Despite the peaks and valleys, The Terrible Children solidly carries out the pop-punk formula. No doubt, it will be interesting to follow if and how The Sweeps’ sphere of influence expands from a local phenomenon into a widespread epidemic.