I first heard Swim Deep supporting Spector at a small gig in Birmingham, and being a Brummie myself, whole heartedly backed them from the offset. On listening to their first EP, Where The Heaven Are We, I knew I had made the correct decision. With the soothing, dreamy anthems and insightful lyrics, perfect for summer evenings, I could see them following bands such as Peace, out from the gigs in B-town to the big wide world of indie pop stardom.
However, their new album, Mothers, is a far cry from what I had expected. Whilst the singles are perhaps more conventional and catchy, the rest of the album is a mix of psychedelic, early 90s pop, and repetitive (occasionally irritating) retro synths.
To My Brother, the first single released back in February is a good bridging song between their old sound and their new sound. The late 80s/early 90s vibe is very chilled, with the expansive synths hinting to their newer style but the chorus “I start to get the feeling all I do is preach / I start to get the feeling all I do is preach to my brother” reminding fans of the loveable lyrics that were so memorable on older songs such as Honey.
The positive vibes continue on their other singles, such as One Great Song And I Could Change The World, with its less guitar-focussed sound and more synthy, electro sound. Being the first song on the album, it sets the tone well for the rest of the album.
Namaste is another single that is very likeable, if slightly generic and corny. However, the irony is not lost on Swim Deep who recognise the cheesy elements of this song, reflected in the 80s game show music video which is definitely worth a watch.
Yet the difference between the singles and the album does leave me feeling a bit confused as to where Swim Deep are headed. Austin Williams, frontman for the band, said “I feel like we’re all shaving our heads and going to war with this record,” which I do feel is reflected in songs such as Green Conduit or the eight-minute closing song Fueiho Boogie, both of which cleverly reflect the band’s new direction, lyrically and instrumentally. But when I listen to the weirdly irritating Forever Spaceman or the overly synthesised Grand Affection I do worry that it is merely change for the sake of change, and the singles are conventionally likeable to entice people in, for the rest of the album to then be drastically different.
Overall, the 80s/90s feel of this album is fun and their lyrical prowess is still strong. The musical talent of this band is impressive and diverse, and this album has given them a new horizon. If you are a Swim Deep fan, go into this album with an open mind; it may be something you enjoy.