There seems to be a lot of highly anticipated albums scheduled for release this year. One of which is the debut from Birmingham’s, Swim Deep. This week finally saw the release of Where The Heaven Are We and the wait for many people was finally over. I was lucky enough to purchase the limited edition signed copy when I purchased a ticket to see the band (roll on September!) which arrived last Saturday. Since then, I’ve listened to nothing else. It really is a brilliant debut. From the very beginning track, Intro, to the final track She Changes The Weather; the band manage to keep your attention and your mood lifted. That’s the beauty of Swim Deep – there’s no depressing songs, no misery and best of all…no filler songs on the album. Each song is perfectly produced, sung and played. Not only does this create a great album but also a great live set. Something I’m looking forward to witnessing again soon. (I saw them support Two Door Cinema Club back in January)
So, as aforementioned, the album starts with Intro. Intro does what it says on the track titele, it’s an introduction to Austin’s flawless vocals. It’s not a long track and there’s really not much I can say about it other than it leads in nicely to second track; Fransisco.
Fransisco is our first chance to hear exactly what the Birmingham four-piece have to offer. Instantaneously, we’re treated to an already catchy guitar riff which quickly compliment’s Austin’s smooth tones, and a undercurrent of drums. I could just end the review here and tell you that the rest of the album is more of the same. This doesn’t mean to album’s boring by any accounts either. If something works, why do anything else? I won’t end the review just here though as I want to talk about one of my favourite tracks on the album, track 3.
King City is a wonderful coming of age track. With lyrics like “I wanna be everything that I’m not. I wanna be rich, I wanna show off. Just a desperado with a sour twist.” It hits the metaphorical nail on the head about what it’s like to be growing up with an unashamed ego and aspirations for the future. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there and many of us probably still find ourselves in this predicament. The introduction to this track might sound like a mash-up between The Vaccines (All In White) and 2007’s chart topping O-Zone (Dragostea Din Tei) but King City makes for a real anthem. Definitely one to whack on your s̶u̶m̶m̶e̶r̶ ̶p̶l̶a̶y̶l̶i̶s̶t̶. Scrap that. Have this whole album on your summer playlist!
So, how do you follow such a fantastic track? By having the equally as fantastic Honey as the next track. Along with King City…Honey was one of the two tracks which were released in 2012. They both served as an introduction to “yet another indie band from Birmingham to “rival” Peace and Jaws.” Honey follows the Swim Deep formula and maintains the guitar riffs, the drum beats and the incredible tones of Austin Williams. It also features one of mine and many Swim Deep fans’ favourite lyric in “don’t just dream in your sleep, it’s just lazy”. It proves even more how ambitious this band have always been and will no doubt strive to be bigger and better than they’re already on course to be.
Next up, probably my least favourite track on the album. Despite this fact, it’s still a good track. That probably doesn’t make much sense but we all have songs like this on most of our albums. Don’t we? Slower than what we’ve become accustomed to with Swim Deep, Colour Your Ways still manages to pack a punch where it matters in terms of guitar, drums and vocals. This time however, we’re introduced to some prominent keyboard notes. Something which I think at times, over empowers the vocals. It just seems a little…messed up, a little rushed?
Make My Sun Shine next and we’re back to what we know with a heavy emphasis on the guitars and vocals. Austin’s voice is quality on all of the tracks but it’s on this one where i feel it really shines through the other elements of the song. And talking from experience, this is always a track that stands out when you see the band live. A lot of energy goes in to the live performance and it’s always this one that stands out for me. Many would agree but at the same time…many would disagree. Whatever opinion you fall in to, there’s no denying that any Swim Deep track is likeable and you’ll find your foot tapping along to anything they produce.
If there’s one song you recognise from the band, it’ll no doubt be the next track, The Sea. The Sea is the track that definitely made me notice the band and see what all the hype was about. After searching for them on iTunes and Spotify, I’m glad I noticed! The Sea is one of those tracks that you hear and will remain in your head for days, if not weeks! It wears its summer anthem vibes proudly and there’s no shame involved whatsoever. Whether you listen to it on your iPod or hear it played on a night out (although, the only place you’ll hear it played in Lincoln is Transmission), you’ll find yourself singing along to the chorus with your friends and strangers alike. A perfectly crafted message rolled in to a simple, effective guitar heavy song.
Red Lips I Know is a very mystic title until you look at it a second time/listen to the song and realise the song’s about familiar girls and getting with said girls time and time again. The lyrics within are cleverly written but despite this, the song doesn’t jump out as being a favourite. I mentioned earlier that there are no filler tracks on the album but I guess this is the closest thing to a filler. I’m not saying it’s a bad sing at all, i just find it hard to relate in any way like I can with the other tracks.
Following on from my least favourite track of the album, we have Soul Trippin’. A great song which is often overshadowed my the more powerful, faster tracks in Honey and King City. The track is a little slow to begin with and struggles to set the pace until the well constructed guitar riff sets in at 1:15 and we’re there! Ultimate Swim Deep-ness. Within the track, we’re further exposed to Austin and the other band members’ ambitious nature with lyrics such as “I wanna be on Tv and in magazines. Drive up to beaches in limousines.” Some people may perceive such lyrics as egotistical but I see them as young people striving for something better and actually going out and doing something about it. There’s not many “indie music” role models but I think Swim Deep would make for very good ambassadors to those looking to better themselves.
Everybody loves a bit of funk and the beginning of Stray is very funky indeed. As soon as the track starts, you get a sense that something special’s going to happen. The special thing initially surfaces as standard Swim Deep until the three-minute mark where the pace quickens and everybody chirps in whether its lead vocals, instruments or backing vocals. Not the best track on the album by a long shot but definitely a well produced track. I’d be very surprised if we don’t see this as a single release before the year’s out.
I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again. The final track on an album is a very important factor to consider. It’s the last thing we take away and digest when listening to an album. It needs to be a track that;s a) Catchy and B) Meaningful. Did Swim Deep succeed in making She Changes The Weather their final track on the album? Of course they bloody did! The track was released as a single in May and to me, is instantly likeable. As the track would suggest, it’s obviously about a girl and I usually find songs like this a little desperate trying to reach out to unobtainable girl but somehow, Swim Deep have managed to make such things work and it’s a song myself and many people can relate to.
So, as a small summary…Where The Heaven Are We, in my opinion, puts Swim Deep at the forefront of the current Birmingham indie scene and I’m already looking forward to seeing what the guys create in the future for their inevitable follow up. Until then, this album will definitely suffice.
Words by Robert Smith (@robertmsmith)