Swim Deep swing for glory on their third album
Hannah Browne
13:37 27th September 2019

More about:

Celebratory but not in the slightest bit conceited, Swim Deep have remodelled the wispy indie of their debut into something euphoric. Following their first album, the Birmingham band should have been invincible. With a shimmering lead single, an eclectically collective fan base, and more than enough buzz from the B-Town indie scene, somehow, they didn’t quite become the biggest indie band around. Now third time lucky, following a hiatus and several line up changes, Swim Deep are swinging for glory with Emerald Classics.

Admittedly, their sophomore album passed me by, and in the four years since Mothers I was almost certain that burned-out habits would be offered in what would follow. However, time is the biggest healer and there’s no denying the group’s transcendence into expansive experimentation.

The first taste of the album offers a slow-burning choral arrangement, featuring Margate’s Social Singing Choir. ‘To Feel Good’ (riffing on Rozalia’s 1991 hit ‘Everybody’s Free’) makes a big statement that surpasses the group's intrinsic feel-good factor. Narrating the life of frontman Austin Williams back when he was 18, the single opens another chapter in what has been a life-affirming rollercoaster. Instead of dwelling on a downtrodden struggle, Swim Deep fix their gaze a little wider as each chorus reminds the listener that “everybody’s free to feel good”. They embrace their journey, in a track that is simultaneously anthemic and intimate.

At the heart of the record sits ‘Sail Away, Say Goodbye’. Crafted from a capricious melody with a power-grabbing chorus, the track addresses the emotions surrounding dementia and the pain of losing a loved one in a long farewell. On the surface, however, ‘Sail Away…’ storms with unmatched allure of nostalgic nuances. One can’t help but compare the track to The Lightning Seeds and The Human League’s ahead of the beat keyboard rhythms.  Other album highlights include ‘0121 Desire’ that sees the group’s early-nineties indie sound displaced for a much broader palette of electronic synth-pop. ‘Bruised’ is, subtly, as masterful as Swim Deep master a new domain.

Constantly changing, Swim Deep have presented a sound that never settles in the beginnings of their new era. A few tracks do miss the mark - ‘Father I Pray’, for instance, plays like a second-hand hymn as the layered vocals compete in a cheesy singalong composition. Still, finding your feet in a new form takes time and slight turbulence does not overlook the new lease of life Emerald Classics has given Swim Deep as a synth-pop outfit. In many ways, this is an album made for the once-sixteen-year-olds that have followed the group since their beginnings; now in their 20s and still feeling somewhat lost. It may not have a sun-drenched, instant pop classic such as ‘King City’, but Emerald Classics shows the group are still high on their original supply of positivity as they push the boundaries of their once limited capabilities.

Emerald Classics is released on 4 October 2019 via Pop Committee/Cooking Vinyl. 

More about: