Single review – Switchdown, Without It

Reviewed by Imogen Cresswell

Released date 19/11/2020

“And I lost control without it”

Following their recent signing with Grow Up Records, alt-rock trio Switchdown have prepared a brand new, freshly recorded single, in which they have rightfully titled Without It. Along with the ever-growing Leicester music scene, Switchdown have left their alternative footprint across various venues including The Shed, in which they performed with well-known post-hardcore band Mallory Knox in October 2019, and also was the venue of choice for their headliner the month following. The birth of this single and all their current successes stem from the release of their first single Spark, in which it was launched by BBC Introducing East Midlands in 2018. 

The first noticeable quality this single has is the pristine production that could be equated to that of a high-ended production mix. Every element is so clearly mixed together which is incredibly important for a track with copious energy and several effects. One pet-peeve plenty of people would agree with, is when the recorded vocals sorely stick out, like a needle in a bed of roses. However, this band and their producer nailed this potential problem which makes this single overall incredibly satisfying to listen to.

Remaining on the topic of vocals, Sam (vocals) appears to know exactly how he wants to sound, showing confidence in both melodic, heavier, aggressive vocals, and even utilising effects such as a taste of distortion and a subtle echo. He flawlessly manipulates his vocal style throughout the track to not only showcase his talent, but to match the tone and direction in which Without It appears to head. Joe (drums) and Harry (bass) also use this style in their playing throughout Without It. Although there is not much variation in the sound, tone and effects of both bass and guitar, there is plenty of variation in their playing style. Along with the continuous, amped up overdriven distortion, listeners will witness the skillful use of string-bending and the whammy bar, palm muting, shredding, and flatpicking. This will inevitably be the golden ticket to their complete success as a band.

Without It resembles a situation in which Switchdown or the subject of the song took a “stab in the dark” and engaged in something that has turned into the main stability in their life. Without it, they will fall apart, but with it, they fall into an exhausted state and lose what is valuable to them. The energy of the track makes it seem almost like a sugar rush, however, Switchdown have left this to the listener’s own interpretation, possibly so that the listener may be able to relate themselves to it more either as the subject of the song, the people around the subject in which this song is clearly addressed to, or the essence itself. 

Naturally, when you think of alternative rock, you think of bands popularised by their pop-punk vocals and their post-hardcore, almost grunge level guitar tones. With Switchdown’s Without It, you can equate their sound quite well to Yellowcard, specifically their song Ocean Avenue, in which we see various guitar techniques and effects relatable to Without It. If you are a fan of Yellowcard, then you will be a fan of Switchdown. Similarly, Sam’s vocal style is reminiscent of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, which is emotive and well-controlled, yet varies in intensity and power. The band Dinosaur Pile-Up comes to mind when I think about Switchdown’s energy and attitude towards their music. Switchdown have a highly specific swagger and laid-backness about the way they present themselves and their music, all while retaining a professional image and understanding their direction and goals in the music industry. 

The three high school friends have worked extremely hard to have gotten to where they are, and Without It is surely going to pay off and give them back all that they have put in. This single is as fresh as they make them. 

You can find Without It on Spotify here.

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