Though the band's sound shifted in a more rootsy, Americana-inspired direction on 2011's Here, Under Protest, ever-versatile punk stalwarts Swingin' Utters shift gears yet again on their eighth album, Poorly Formed. Once again shaping its sound around the influences that helped to create punk, the band moves its focus away from early rock to proto-punk, drawing inspiration from the sounds of the Velvet Underground and the Modern Lovers and coming up with a refreshingly different album in the process. While Poorly Formed still finds Swingin' Utters working at a modern punk pace, the tools of their trade -- the motoric, mostly clean guitars and lockstep rhythms -- provide the album with a feeling best described as vintage. This new sound is really put through its paces on songs like "Brains" and "A Walk with the Postman," which find the band injecting its proto-punk experimentations with a bit of pacing, with infectiously catchy results. Fans of the band's older work will be happy to know that the album isn't a complete reinvention, and the Utters still find plenty of opportunities to indulge their street punk, roots rock, and more country-leaning tendencies, with songs like "Stuck in a Circle" and "Greener Grass" providing a tangible link to their last album. At the end of the day, a band that's been around as long as Swingin' Utters can either break up, just keep doing the same old thing year after year, or try to keep changing things up. Fortunately for us, the band has chosen the latter of the three.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney