You don’t normally associate big hooks and harmonies with Swedish punk rock. Fast? Yep. Lots of woahs? Possibly. Generally crushing and anti-capitalist? You got it. The Way They Run certainly combine a few elements of these, along with a much more melodic vibe that’s more akin to American heavyweights Hot Water Music and Samiam than their contemporaries. The question is, does it pay off for new EP Safe Haven?
I’m pleased to say that it totally does. From the opening chords of ‘Eyewitness’, that classic Midwest feel starts to come through, but as soon as Claes starts singing, it takes on a life of its own and becomes something much more. The EP as a whole is totally solid – there’s a great rhythm section, lots of punchy riffs and a production level that’s not overpolished but still lets everyone shine through. Looking past all the sweet harmonies and backing vocals, Safe Haven definitely has a bit of weight behind it too. ‘Between Wages’ takes inspiration from a heavier scene, and there’s a fantastic bit where the guitar gallops and Claes sings “I bite my lips, I clench my fist, and I fade away” before launching into a tune-heavy chorus that evokes images of abandonment and loss. It’s powerful stuff, and it’s threaded a little more subtly throughout the rest of the EP, but The Way They Run are best when they’re frank and open. And before it all gets too deep for you, the EP’s closer, ‘Cross Bearer’, finishes on a sweet little breakdown that’s enough to melt the heart of any hardened punk.
There’s a couple of moments on first listen where songs start to lose their potency and feel over extended – ‘Between Wages’ is the longest track on the EP and definitely seems guilty of this at first. But this record is certainly a grower. Give it a chance and soon enough, you’ll find it playing on repeat for days.
4 out of 5 high fives!