This time last year, who knew that Swim Deep, four boys from Birmingham whose alliance blossomed in the lasagne aisle of Morrisons in a kaleidoscopic twist of fate, would be giving One Direction and their fangirls a run for their money?
More indie than electric, more electric than pop, more pop than surf, more surf than baggy, but more baggy than twee…their chameleon sound has been noticeably ambitious from the start, but I suppose none of the pressures of expectation matter when all bass player Cav wants to do is “see the world, go to loads of different countries, play festivals and date Alexa Chung.” Three out of four isn’t bad.
Debut album Where The Heaven Are We? has a questionably rocky start with ‘Francisco’. An optimistic intro of glittery synths, the almost nursery-rhyme-like enunciation of the verse and the hint of desperation in the chorus is rescued by it’s sheer catchiness which makes it impossible to not like it just a little bit. Okay make that enjoy.
Thankfully any myths of naivety are dispelled by cult hit ‘King City’ which exudes a lot more maturity in both vocals and it’s thumping beats, similarly following track ‘Honey’ swoops in to save them. ‘Francisco’ seems limp in comparison when they manage to conjure such intensity with sheer effortlessness; the song is a paradox in itself, floating along a dreamy breeze of nonchalance and giving a lot of credit to their hype.
Inexplicably ‘Colour Your Ways’ is a highlight, perhaps because again their talent shines dappled light through their whispered melodies that lack force or pretension.
‘Make My Sun Shine’ starts off steadily, building up tentative anticipation in the bridge only to be let down with a chorus that is reminiscent of the terrible turn of events in an alternative reality which sees Ian Brown shun drugs for knitting and seek a life of wholesomeness in his local happy clappy Church Choir.
As the sun begins to set down by the sea, Swim Deep really are trying to find out what it is they want to be, no less evident on ’Soul Trippin’ which is essentially a 90’s American high school dance filmed through a musical instagram filter. There’s an echo of some Lighthouse Family style crooning but with enough noodly bass work to keep it on the right side of hip for the ‘B-town’ scene.
Where The Heaven Are We is an eclectic tribute to many of Swim Deep’s evident musical influences, and as a first album traditionally should be, a real soul searcher. The occasional weaknesses in their cliche approach are affordable with the curse of youth, but the elements that they’ve transcended beyond the obvious such as in the sneering lust of ‘Honey’ show real talent and ingenuity. But until you’ve seen the band aptly carry each other on their shoulders through the grimy palace of nightlife that is Snobs in Birmingham to ‘King City’, it’s difficult to explain the tidal wave of promise that it’s only a matter of time until they’re riding.