Compositionally, the music that’s been keeping Allison Crutchfield busy in the five years since the last Swearin’ record wasn’t far removed from what we’d come to expect from her. Last year’s solo debut, ‘Tourist in This Town’, came complete with uplifting hooks for days, vocals that sounded like a rougher, slightly less honeyed version of her twin sister Katie’s, and a sharp ear for melody. What was different, though, was the palette she was painting with, both on ‘Tourist in This Town’ and the stark EP ‘Lean In to It’; buzzy synths replaced scuzzy guitars for the most part.
On the back of both Allison’s work with Katie in P.S. Eliot and the first two Swearin’ albums - particularly the stellar second, ‘Surfing Strange’ - we’ve become used to hearing her voice - in both literal and thematic terms - set against raw rock backdrops, and as accomplished as ‘Tourist in This Town’ was, there’s something almost cathartic about hearing her back in her natural habitat.
A year on the road with Katie in the touring band for Waxahatchee’s noisiest record yet, ‘Out in the Storm’, have helped preserve her rock chops, but it’s how comfortably she and bandmate Kyle Gilbride have settled back into the old dynamic that’s most impressive. Eighteen months ago, she confirmed that the collapse of their romantic relationship meant that the band were finished, but time has clearly healed old wounds; ‘Fall Into the Sun’ feels like a genuine collaboration between the pair.
They split vocal duties; Allison’s tracks are, typically, piercingly personal, from the delicate opener ‘Big Change’, which chronicles her move from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, to the nerve-ridden urgency of road anthem ‘Grow Into a Ghost’. Kyle, meanwhile, does some reflection of his own; the languid ‘Dogpile’ is an ode to a fork in the road, while there’s a markedly grown-up quality to the angst he channels on ‘Stabilize’ and ‘Treading’. Musically, the band again take their cues from the nineties likes of Superchunk and Sebadoh, and they do it with real verve. ‘Fall Into the Sun’ is the best Swearin’ record yet; that Allison and Kyle have not just reformed the band, but actually brought the creative best out of each other in doing so, is a powerful advert for reconciliation.