New Swears

And the Magic of Horses

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Ottawa garage punks New Swears add a welcome touch of studio polish on And the Magic of Horses, their third album and first for Toronto indie Dine Alone Records. Since debuting in 2013, members Beej Eh, Sammy J. Scorpion, Nick Nofun, and Scru Bar have established themselves in Ontario's D.I.Y. underground as stewards of appealingly unserious and pleasantly tuneful party rock. The title of their previous effort, 2014's Junkfood Forever Bedtime Whatever, ought to give listeners an idea of New Swears' general philosophy and, in that respect, And the Magic of Horses doesn't disappoint. Songs like "Cry a Lot," "Race to the Grave," and "Comfortably Hungover" fit snugly into the jangling slacker pop mold and are executed with an appropriate mix of laissez faire and discreet finesse. While their two prior self-released LPs were marred by a patina of homegrown lo-fi scuzz, producer Paul "Yogi" Granger adds just enough luster to bump Swears' tunes into the next sonic tax bracket and it really helps to streamline the band's overall sound. Rippling with energy and strong melodies, opener "Dance with the Devil" benefits from the tightened-up arrangements as the band turns in some sterling guitar work and surprisingly fluid harmonies. Despite their improved playing skills, there's still enough loose punk spirit in the band's performances to connect with their roots, especially on the fiery "Warm Bodies." With its mix of humor, pop smarts, and clever arrangement, "Halos in Hell" stands out as the best of what New Swears have to offer on this strong third effort.

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