One of the most baffling whimsies of the late ’90s is Swervedriver’s dogged exclusion from the roster of so-called Britpop crossover successes. Never more than a Stateside blip among indie fans not above taking their pleasure from the most democratic of wells, the Swervers should be getting more recognition, not to mention pop-star stuff—fame, money, chicks—for their impeccable sense of balance. Their influences are solid historical facts, sturdy and thoroughly processed, their lyrics elliptical and literary. The strummy radio-ready numbers, here represented by the grooving “Expressway” and the elegiac “She Weaves a Tender Trap,” are repetitive and spacey, drawing a direct line to guitar-driven pre-punk rather than the Beatles-by-way-of-Oasis lineage sported by more derivative bands. “Stellar Caprice” takes lounge seriously in a way even lounge—especially lounge—doesn’t any more, and “In My Time” is teasing and delicate, a touch of ’50s pomp propelling its circular beat. Swervedriver’s postmodern grunge owes nothing to anyone; it’s polished and melodic but not sparkling. “Wrong Treats” is as disorienting and pop-sludgy as 1993’s racing, sexy “Last Train to Satansville”—too much guitar, too much crash cymbal, the lyrics as topsy-turvy as an Escher drawing. Since being dropped by A&M (after the poorly publicized Mezcal Head), Swervedriver sounds more confident, and more marketable, than ever, virtually defying American audiences to ignore it.—Arion Berger