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Album Review

A compilation of the band's entire discography, Swirl demonstrates that Reverb deserve more attention than just for being the roots of the Land of Nod, formed by lead members Ant Walker and Dave Battersby. Instead of that duo's intoxicating blend of instrumental psych/gaze for guitar and bass, Reverb was far more a straight-up rock band, usually recording and performing quick, punchy songs with vocals in a trio format. The first half of Swirl covers the earliest singles and EPs, which as such are the most derivative but still enjoyable songs on the disc, nodding to any variety of British and American rock touchstones with a tripped-out feeling, old and new. Walker's clear singing is far more direct than myriad other guitar-pedal abusers of the early '90s, though — a bit of Kinks spike and garage attitude that keeps things from being drifty, matched musically by the energetic, fluid riffing Battersby comes up with, not to mention early drummer Ben Godding's way around propulsive, frenetic crash and bash. It's well in evidence on such A-sides as "Velocity Fall," the monstrous noise of "Mesmorized," the killer title track (providing one of the best mock-Arabian moments in rock), and "Melting into You," a triumphant, strong number that shows a clear debt to Echo & the Bunnymen in their pomp (a favor repaid by Will Sergeant's fandom and production work). Most of the second half of the disc draws on the band's one full album, only released on vinyl and itself taken from a number of different sessions; it's an enjoyable continuation of the sound established by the earlier singles if not always quite so stunning, but songs like "Fragile" are hardly slouches. Add in some enthusiastic — perhaps overly so! — liner notes and the result's a treat of a disc.

Swirl, Reverb
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