Saturday, 3 August 2013

SWIM DEEP - ALBUM REVIEW

Swim Deep - Where The Heaven Are We (Sony/RCA) 
Swim Deep - Where The Heaven Are We

Release Date: 5th August 2013

When I was just a nipper, I used to mark off the dates that hotly anticipated singles or albums would be released or the date that big new bands would grace my humble outpost with their presence on my Roald Dahl calendar. I haven't done that for years but when I first heard Swim Deep I knew that I needed to hear what they could do with expansiveness of a whole album at their disposal. That album has arrived and, although my calendar is now electronic, the date is no less hotly anticipated. 'Where The Heave Are We" is the debut offering from the Birmingham quartet and, judging by the buzz surrounding the band, I'm not the only awaiting it's arrival with the excitement of a 15 year old in the 90s counting down the days until he gets to see Kula Shaker for the first time (times were tight, musically speaking, in my neck of the woods - don't judge, OK?).

This is album drenched in sunshine, good times and the haze that comes with four friends spending a little too much time in each other's pockets.  Once the dreamy intro gives way to the album proper, we are met with the bubbly, bouncy and slightly wonky 'Francisco' full of late 80s indie drums, off kilter synths and jangly guitars - a bold start for any band, never  mind a debut album. Follow this up with the defiantly youthful and optimistic single 'King City' and this album is already worming its way in to my ears and my heart. There's an overriding baggy feeling to this album but mixed in with some subtle electronica like the Charlatans collaborating with New Order or, more likely, Electronic. The repeated chorus refrain on 'Honey' of "Don't just dream in your sleep, it's just lazy" could be the Happy Mondays  and the bassline is pure Peter Hook. Then again, there's a more positive, hopeful vibe here which is perfectly evidenced on 'Colour Your Ways' with its handclaps and synthetic panpipe melody. In fact, for a band from landlocked Birmingham, this album has themes of sun, sea, serenity and class-A drugs running through it like a stick of rock - those Class-As are perhaps responsible for the hopeful escapism that seems to inhabit every track. Those panpipes are back again on 'Make My Sun Shine' before we head to 'The Sea' with a Red Hot Chili Peppers inspired gentle guitar riff before these four whipper-snappers start fusing the Beach Boys, '!!!' and that Madchester swagger in to one infectious groove.

Swim Deep - UK Slapsies Champions 2013
What is most remarkable about this album, released via Sony records, is the absolute freedom and lack of restriction that this music seems to have been created with. There are stand out tunes and obvious singles but this isn't an album that feels as though there has been too much corporate influence or instruction behind it. Back to the music and 'Red Lips I Know' is a splashy, crashy layer cake of a tune that just builds and builds until you're not sure what's happening any more. The piano led, almost ballady 'Soul Trippin' is the sunrise conversation that all teenagers have with their mates after a long night when you reveal your inner most dreams and plans for life. It's that theme of escapism as the words "I want to drive out to beaches in Limousines" and "get me out of this town but I don't want to leave my friends behind, they're coming with me" drift out of the speakers. This is a band with big dreams and plans to go further than Camden once a year and it is so refreshing to hear. So often these days people get in to music for the chance to be famous and, don't get me wrong, Swim Deep would clearly love that, but their raison d'etre is to escape their home town before it swallows them alive and music is their way out.

As the album comes to a close, we are gifted the blissed out 'Stray' full of those 80s drums again as well as floaty guitars, misty keyboards and lyrics full of reminiscence and tinges of regret. To finish up with is the song that first made me fall for this band, the immense 'She Changes The Weather'. This song is one of the freshest, most instant and most expansive things to have come out of the UK music scene in a long time and you feel that if the album is Swim Deep's Dear John letter to their home town, then 'She Changes The Weather' is the point at which they sling their bag on their back, pick up their guitar and quietly leave via the back door as the sun rises above the high rises and that first bus out of town awaits. This is an album that stands on the edge of the future with all the hope, optimism and expectation that we've all experienced at one time or another. And I have to say, waiting for this album has been 100 times better than waiting for Kula Shaker, man they were a let down...


Live Dates:

8th August - Banquet  Records In Store, Kingston-upon-Thames
9th August - Boardmasters Festival, Newquay
6th September - Bestival, Isle of Wight
14th September - Warehouse 34, Newcastle
15th September - Oran Mor, Glasgow
16th September - Queens Social Club, Sheffield
17th September - The Ritz, Manchester
18th September - The Kazimier, Liverpool
19th September - The Cockpit, Leeds
20th September - Town Hall, Birmingham
21st September - The Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
22nd September - The Globe, Cardiff
23rd September - O2 Academy, Oxford
24th September - The Junction, Cambridge
25th September - Concorde 2, Brighton
27th September - Shepherds Bush Empire, London
7th November - Inrocks Festival, Paris

9th November - Paradiso, Amsterdam

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