Swervedriver were something of an anomaly on Creation Records back in the early 1990s. Too centred on Americana-style themes of travelling and escape to justifiably be labelled shoegaze, too noisy to be crusty, too crusty looking to be post-punk – this was a band with identity problems for the general public at large. They always preferred the label of “space travel rock and roll” which was befitting. As many of their peers looked down at their pedal boards, here was a band too busy gazing at the stars or the open road ahead to be pretentiously ponderance and ethereal.

The template for their sound and themes was firmly established on their debut album of 1991, the exquisite Raise, which contained songs about finding freedom, dreams and the recurring imagery of the beach and watching the tide which acted as metaphors for a sense of unambiguous optimism which was often sorely lacking from their counterparts of the era. They also sang about real life issues – broken bottles on the floor, meeting friends and (shock, horror) politics. The latter is evidenced on ‘Harry and Maggie’ from their second album Mezcal Head which tells the story of a stone mason who chipped the phrase “Maggie sucks” into a number of gargoyles on the roof of the Houses of Parliament that he was refurbishing. Singer and lyricist Adam Franklin claims this is a true story and surely it is too good not to be.

The band called it quits in 1998 after the release of their poorly received fourth album, 99th Dream, only to resurface in 2008 for some live dates. They released their first album in forever in March 2015 and I Wasn’t Born to Lose You had all of the hallmarks of the Swervedriver of yore. Even the album cover of bare feet stretched out of a car window while a desert rushed by outside echoed all of the themes of the band’s previous output. Swervedriver, once again, proved themselves to be an optimistic band who had dreams of a better tomorrow.

Future Ruins is a move away from these positive feelings, centring as it does on the political climate in which it was made. The band’s central pair of Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge are clearly pissed off with how things are, a theme which drips from every fibre of this body of work. Disappointingly for a band previously so focused on themes of fuel and adrenaline, they seem more resigned than angry. The title track is a sombre reflection on the state of the current world, with declarations that we are run by fools and that we live in future ruins. The song itself sounds weary, perfectly marrying the music with the lyrical content in an understandingly depressing manner. Swervedriver always gave the listener hope, that escape would lead to better things, that happiness was just on the other side of the hill, but throughout this album there is a defeated feeling. It is in this overall tone that the album suffers, as there is little let up in this negativity as an all-encompassing feeling of suffocation takes hold of the listener. This was clearly the band’s intent but it results in a slog.

Nine of the album’s ten tracks work perfectly well on their own (the dreary ‘Golden Remedy’ is instantly forgettable and turgid), yet as a collection there is something missing. Many of the songs are mid-paced, lacking the verve and energy which Swervedriver are more than capable of conjuring up. It’s a tough album to get through in one sitting due to the crushing melancholy, but there is still much here to be applauded.

Album opener ‘Mary Winter’ is a cracker, telling the story of a spaceman trying to recall life on Earth and where it all went wrong. This theme of trying to assess the irreparable damage done runs throughout the album, yet there seems to be no spark of an answer to the dispirited nature that courses through Future Ruins. Another album highlight is the previously released track ‘Drone Lover’, a tale of digital age warfare set to Teenage Fanclub-style jangling guitar melodies. It’s about as ‘pop’ as Swervedriver have ever been, but this track singularly highlights the issues at play here – as a standalone track it sounds both fresh and optimistic (in a way), but within the body of the album the lyrics take on a more wearied, accepting manner, as if the songs that sit alongside it are dragging it down to their mood level. Context is everything.

The mix of the album means that much of the nuance of the musicianship is lost at low volume. So, for the love of all things good, turn it up as this album is best experienced as loud as possible - but also probably not in one go. Where previously the band soared and looked to the horizon for hope, they now seem as filled with dread and despair for the future as the rest of us.