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  • Sammie Starr

Album Review: Swiss Army Wife - 'Medium Gnarly'

Updated: Jan 8

Portland, OR Emo / Pop-punkers Swiss Army Wife release classic emo/midwestern infused full-release, Medium Gnarly.



There was a time in the scene when many bands deeply embraced emo and math-infused instrumental frameworks. If anyone has truly been a fan of both genres over the years, it's hard to call it a true emo revival; only a few bands have come extremely close to replicating its resonance and charm.


Part of Swiss Army Wife's nostalgic radiance is their effortless balance between celebrating the past while encapsulating small pieces of contemporary rock that make it feel whole. Valuable jewels like "CBS at 7:00" perfectly illustrates this. The song's guitar riffs pull off subtle, small Coheed and Cambria-esque elements to it, which gives the already lush song experience more depth.

To keep the genre alive and well over the years, bands have incorporated their unique soundscapes into the mix while drawing inspiration from the genre's great classics like Cap'n Jazz, American Football, and more modern gems like Algernon Cadwallader, Midwest Pen Pals, Modern Baseball, and Tiny Moving Parts. As more bands attempt to reconnect with the past and reintroduce these flavors to the scene, Swiss Army Wife from Portland, Oregon have studied what makes this genre work and have beautifully crafted their new album, Medium Gnarly.


From the beginning of Medium Gnarly's first introductory track, "This # Is No Longer In Service," it feels as if we have taken a step back in time. Swiss Army Wife has polished off the dust of yesteryear's nostalgic allure and brought it back to life. With youthful energy, twinkling guitars, and emotionally driven lyricism that drives us to the counterpoint of what's to come for the next few tracks.

Other tracks, such as "FLCL" (which, if you know the anime reference, will also make this track more enjoyable), keep the momentum going with its bright melodic guitar patterns and notable midwestern-style vocal control. One of the album's standout tracks demonstrates the creative layers Swiss Army Wife can pack into a single-track experience.

"New Best Friend" provides a different, denuded change of pace yet keeps its twinkly guitar resonance in balance with their aggressively-charged vocals and peppered edge sprinkled in on each of their songs.

Part of Swiss Army Wife's nostalgic radiance is their effortless balance between celebrating the past while encapsulating small pieces of contemporary rock that make it feel whole. Valuable jewels like "CBS at 7:00" perfectly illustrates this. The song's guitar riffs pull off subtle, small Coheed and Cambria-esque elements to it, which gives the already lush song experience more depth.


The album ends with the finale tracks, "Your Bathroom" and "Aight, I'mma Head Out." While every track in itself has been melodically ambitious while also containing infectious sparkling guitars and imbuing raw energies throughout, "Your Bathroom" and "Aight, I'mma Head Out" create a fiercely inventive, and engagingly harmonic experience, ending Medium Gnarly on a pleasant note.

Swiss Army Wife is a band that not only pays attention to and respects the genres and bands that came before them, but they build on that sound so effortlessly that one can hardly tell whether it's past or present when you listen to them. That, at least for a dedicated genre fan, shows dedication to the "emo revival."



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