The Portland, Oregon, band’s particular take on emo–heavy on the math riffs, extremely gruff vocally, and fun as hell–might seem quaint in 2022/3, a time when most bands are finding ways to distance themselves as much as possible from the hallmarks of the genre. But the band’s debut full-length, Medium Gnarly, is refreshing in its back to basics approach, charming in a way that recalls the scrappy early work of now-iconic groups like You Blew It! or Free Throw.
Single “Halloween” is a perfect encapsulation of Swiss Army Wife’s ethos, a two-minute rager at a breakneck pace stuffed with noodly riffs and hyper-specific, half-sarcastic lyricism. The record’s heavier moments, like closer “Aight, I’mma Head Out” and the first half of “No More Drugs,” lend the band some punk cred, while “Your Bathroom” and the waltzy coda of “No More Drugs” prove Swiss Army Wife’s just as capable of slowing down the pace and still delivering the goods. It comes together as a twenty-minute sugar rush, a debut album that’ll impress fans of the emo revivalists and more contemporary acts. Medium Gnarly is the sort of record that already feels like a cult classic, the kind that just needs to find its way to the right ears.