Single Review – Swim Deep – Grand Affection

Birmingham’s Swim Deep are looking to move on from the cute psychedelia and Hanson aesthetic with their new album Mothers out on September 18th. Their debut LP Where the Heaven Are We made up for in production ability what it lacked in substance. They look to be channelling Kraftwerk and McCartney with their new single ‘Grand Affection’ and harnessing that ability in the studio with a song that is anchored around a bulky, synth beat with a echoed riffs and bass lines floating across it in much the same way Austin William’s vocals do. It’s a track that remains rather simple in terms of structure and perhaps still lacking a but of substance, but the delivery and presentation of something relatively simple is rather impressive as they open up and extend the boundaries of the tracks sound. A promising start for their new album.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Swim Deep – Where The Heaven Are We Review

There seems to be a micro music scene going on in Birmingham at the moment that journo’s have slapped the title of B-Town upon. It’s largerly passed me by apart from me humming ‘lovesick’ by Peace on the Wednesday after seeing them on Jools Holland. But I think it’s great a movement can spring up and thrive in this day and age. Swim Deep are often referred to as Peace’s mates but having successful friends doesn’t create success as a given. Well… it didn’t do the Rolling Stones any harm though. Apparently Swim Deep are those sort of hipster types who wear band shirts and can’t name any songs from them which leads to the sort of default twitter rant that clogs up my timeline on a daily basis. But who am I to judge them? As usual i’ll judge them on their music rather than pre-conceived notions. I do think that they are plugging a sound hybrid that not many others do. Sort of a psychedelic pop with the productions and techniques of modern psychedlica with some art rock elements but with more pop like vocals and lyrics. It’s a bit like someone poured sugar over Tame Impala or The Horrors which doesn’t sound like a bad recipe.

‘King City’ has a instant hook and eagerness about it as soon as the echoed bass drum joins the synth and the bass completes the instrumental picture. It’s steady and sure of itself yet is damn catchy and rythmic. Austin Williams whispy and naive vocals have free reign due to the echoed effect of the instrumentals that whip up a lot of room to allow Austin’s vocals to flow freely above them. The backing vocals are so simple yet are placed perfectly like in any good pop song and have their own job too and don’t just follow the lead vocal and create more of a wash of sound that the synth breaks out of to offer up some melodic chords. It’s just a straight up indulgence of sugar coated yet refined pop music and is perfect for summer. No it really is. ‘Honey’ too starts off with a build up of sound, leading into a “wooo” and synth chords to hook you to the tune whether you like it or not. The bass gives the song some depth against the other floating and dreamy elements. The guitar riff mimics the synth well and though there is clearly a bit going on, it isn’t a mess but sort of a general wash or wave of sound that allows again for the vocals to work and this shows that the production is pretty sound in that sense. ‘The Sea’ starts off again with that refined sound with just a subtle riff and the vocals and then shoots into a sort of Madchester sound with the varied percussion and the shifting bass lines. The synth’s intertwine around this too and creates less of a wave of sound in which this time all the elements have a more definitive role. Austins vocals are recorded in the same fashion as the other two singles and so is individual to the music which creates a happy comprimise again. ‘She Changes The Weather’ differs from this too and is sort of the ballad of the song if there is any. Again they love to have that build up of sound in their intro’s but this one is a little more subtle. The instumental elements are seperated well and actually sound quite minimal in the verses with the bass driving the song with the synth hovering above it and the percussion feeding rythm to it. Lyrically the song is a simple love song and is delivered cunningly with the echoed and dream like vocals and the wave of sound in the chorus to create a dreamy and loved-up affair.

One problem with the album is that they’ve layed out their stall too early in a way and left no suprises in the track listing. Just little added extra’s. Some songs like ‘Francisco’ do stand up with the singles to some extent but in general it’s a single driven album. You won’t find anything new or fresh in the track listing which is a shame. But they counter act this slightly by spreading out their singles in the track listing which will give you a better chance to enjoy those songs inbetween the singles. In saying that too, it’s only their debut album. Perhaps showing all they’ve got straight away allowed people to get more of an idea of their sound and you know what you’re gonna get in the album from the singles as well. I think they can go on to do good things. They have the creativity and the general skills to pull out different sounds and area’s of light and shade. Apart from that it’s just a feel good album you should enjoy. That was the theme they were going for and they’ve got it down exactly.

Swim Deep – Where The Heaven Are We = 8/10

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