There must be something in Dayton, Ohio’s water that makes self-produced, lo-fi rock from that city sound so good. Like the sorely missed Dayton band Guided by Voices, Swearing at Motorists specialize in simple, rough but comfortable pop-rock. Timing is an element the two bands share: The Motorists’ new album, Last Night Becomes This Morning, features 32-second guitar interludes (“Chick Hern to Fakie”) and the longest song, “Waterloo Crescent,” checks in at a brisk 2:52. And like many of GBV’s albums, especially ones produced at the end of its run, Last Night lacks cohesiveness as a whole, with songs varying wildly between country, blues, and gritty trucker punk. But the album’s production also varied wildly, covering a span of two-and-a-half years, four cities, and nine studios and clubs. Those different environments seem to have impacted the many moods of main songwriter Dave Doughman, allowing him to explore a range of emotions and songwriting that might not have otherwise occurred in cozier venues.
Early on, with “Northern Line,” Doughman pushes into blues territory before letting himself explore more tremulous sounds with “This Is Not How Forever Begins,” which features Doughman on solo acoustic guitar, singing about a woman’s unrequited love. He even lets himself become a pop singer on “Waterloo Crescent.” After a stiff, plodding guitar introduction, the song becomes a jaunty jingle about longed-for girlfriend back at home: “Laughing ’bout the night before / Smiling like you want some more.” Almost makes you want to haul ass back to Dayton.