I’ve heard from certain people that 99th Dream is a “weak” Swervedriver album, and this offends me. I’ve been listening to this album for almost a couple of decades now, ever since an ex-girlfriend fervently recommended I check this album and this band, so I am rather biased to my opinion of this album by now, I guess. What can I say? It’s taken me a while, but my time to review 99th Dream has come.
But first, let’s hear them rock the opening track, “99th Dream”, live to get us (me and you) in the mood and re-acquainted with the times in which this album was released – the late 1990’s.
Ah, the late 1990’s. Otherwise known in my mind as the time when music started to suck. Do you like blanket statements? Good.
<continues ranting> The stations I once liked were beginning to be dominated by brat punk like Blink-182 and emo punk was just on the horizon, as I recall. Of course, this doesn’t mean that good music was disappearing entirely from the universe, but there was definitely an influx at this time of music I hated, and which the generation after mine apparently loved. C’est la vie. The age of shoegaze was done, britpop was fading fast, and all of those cool English bands had had their day. Swervedriver, in particular, had already had their shot at glory and little did I know that 99th Dream was somewhat of a swan song for them.
I guess that by the time I got my hands on 99th Dream in ’98, the band was kaput, due in part to struggles that had lasted up until 1998, then the band packed it in. Apparently there was a lot of weird stuff going on with Swervedriver at the time in regards to getting this album released, and I never really knew that backstory of all of that. I was blissfully unaware of anything but the fact that I liked this album, and I also liked Mezcal Head, which I’d also picked up way back when. I wasn’t familiar with anything prior to that for a number of years.
I can only speak to my own experience, of course, and this album always struck me as being more or less perfect in terms of the kind of music I like to put on. Mezcal Head actually took me longer to get used to, but 99th Dream I was into right away. I got them at around the same time, and so I wasn’t bitter about 99th Dream not having the same sound as Mezcal Head or anything like that.
At the time, I was also into bands like My Bloody Valentine and all of the other shoegaze stuff from England, and so this incarnation of Swervedriver was right up my alley. I also used to listen to both Blur and Oasis, but I never thought Swervedriver was much like them. If anything, I thought 99th Dream was a gorgeous glittering starscape, along the lines of Urban Hymns by The Verve. Both bands had a really groovy rhythm section and yet there were some rock chops in there too, clearly. I must also mention my ex girlfriend who got me into the band here again, because she had this room that was like this psychedelic cave, and this was the perfect environment for listening to 99th Dream and getting to like it. Talk about being biased – well, yeah! I remember she really insisted I listen to this song, “Electric 77”.
There have been many times in my life where I do exactly as Swervedriver would have me do – drive around blasting their albums in my car. We all know Swervedriver likes cars, and I think Adam even said something about music sounding great in cars at some point. Like, I’m pretty sure. Anyway, I think 99th Dream is perfect driving music. It’s actually perfect music for a lot of things.
I really like the sequencing on 99th Dream, the way they’ve ordered the songs and how they flow from one to the next. The opening track I think is one of my all time favourite opening tracks, just the way that fuzzy surf guitar kind of dive bombs in. From there, the way it goes to “Up From The Sea” is brilliant – the song erupts like a fountain, and…well, it’s just awesome start to finish. Other reviewers have said things like the band uses too many effects, or they drag the songs on too long, or they have ceased to rock, but those people are clearly idiots, imbeciles, and ingrates. There are really only two songs that push it when it comes to song length, and they are both appropriately epic so come on, guys.
I’ll say a couple more things and then wrap this bad boy up. Alan Moulder is the man for helping to produce this album. He knows a thing or two about production, and his reputation of course precedes him. A lot of my favourite albums were produced by him – The Downward Spiral, Portrait of an American Family, Siamese Dream, Loveless! Fuck, I mean I wasn’t there but he must have seen the grand vision for this music just as much as the band did to get it to sound like this. This is some stereophonic stuff, and it’s an album that keeps me coming back for more every year. It’s going to be weird when I’m 80 and this is still blasting from my car.
The last thing to mention is the band. This is a tight band, and there’s no substitute for a band that is tight that can also write great tunes. True music lovers know this. So, a tip of the hat to Adam Franklin, Jimmy Hartridge, Steve George, and Jez Hindmarsh. And with that, I’m off to pass out and let this record play me out of consciousness, yet again.