With guitar music arguably in its most creatively rich period in at least two decades, bands are at long last reclaiming the sense of identity that made rock such a potent force in the first place. Fittingly, Brooklyn, NY quartet Sharkswimmer has identity in abundance, and their unique brand of introspective, melodic post-hardcore informed alt-rock is a worthy entry into the emerging canon.
On their debut LP and first release for Really Rad Records, Serenity, Sharkswimmer calls forth the aggressive melodicism of 90s post-hardcore greats like Planes Mistaken For Stars, the hook-heavy punch of 2010s alt-rock acts such as Basement, and the gritty emotional vulnerability of contemporaries like Fiddlehead for a stunning full-length effort that is dripping with personality. Written over several months and recorded with producer/engineer Jon Markson (Drug Church, Koyo, Soul Blind), Serenity is, at its core, a remarkably well-crafted alt-rock record with bursts of aggression that befit the band’s DIY roots. Disarmingly earnest lyricism that evokes the most heart-wrenching ballads of 90s emo serves as a perfect counterbalance to the record’s sonic aggression, anchoring it to the humanity that makes up the record’s spiritual center. Largely a vehicle for vocalist/guitarist and principle songwriter Justin Buschardt to exercise the emotional trauma of divorce, Serenity explores the universality of heartbreak against a backdrop of anthemic, guitar-driven tracks that would be as at home on the Jade Tree catalogue of the 90s as they are next to contemporary acts such as Drug Church or Militarie Gun.
As rich as the current rock landscape is, it could just as easily be overcome with cheap imitations and pretenders. Luckily, Sharkswimmer is here to ensure that doesn’t happen. With a healthy portion of pathos and pop hooks, Serenity is an immediately arresting affair that secures the band’s status as well-deserving heirs to the alt-rock throne.