Swimming - Ecstatics International

Swimming - Ecstatics International

Swimming make you feel as though you’re in space, in the future, made of foam.

Rating:

Nottingham five piece Swimming release shimmering sophomore album ‘Ecstatics International’ from a position slightly under the radar, metaphorically. For all the acts swirling in the constant whirlpool of hype it’s hard to see quite why Swimming haven’t succumbed to the same fate. Scratch the surface with even the faintest of grazes though and what’s revealed is effortlessly melodic keyboards, engaging harmonies and cleverly worked songs.

Swimming have a depth and uniqueness that’s led to all sorts of bizarre comparisons, and I’d hate to be the one to drop the trend; if White Rose Movement returned in a really good mood having listened exclusively to The Beach Boys, Ruby Suns and My Bloody Valentine they’d sound more like Swimming than anyone else does.

Opener ‘Neutron Wireless Crystal’ is an electro stomp which introduces neatly the nearly flawless vocals and varying instrumentation that the album keeps throughout and keyboards washing in and out alongside, albeit more infrequent, spiky guitar lines. Second track ‘In Ecstatics’ is the highlight of the album and there is no shame in that, a roaring song that casts huge shadows over similar acts, the like of Is Tropical and Fenech-Soler. Perfectly bottling the sound of euphoria, Swimming have made a song as anthemic as any stadium band the world over. The pace is lowered for ‘Mining For Diamonds’ a downbeat synth led affair, with an opening that brings to mind the quieter moments of The Cooper Temple Clause, substituting the menace for that consistent pop outlook.

Leaving the dark clouds behind the album regains its Yeasayer-ish bounce for ‘Kid Global’ amping its bubblegum cuteness far beyond any normally acceptable level. ‘Sun In The Island’ is close to ‘In Ecstatics’ for its sheer anthemic glory, and its dreamy refrain of “Let’s jump on our island on in the sun” perfectly complements the unusual swap from 8-bit keyboards to distinctly shoegazey guitars that takes place before the chorus each time. For the next few tracks Swimming perhaps indulge in experimentalism, a minimalist pop urge, a track drenched in reverb and something that comes a close to deserving the term “80s sci-fi love ballad” as you’re ever likely to hear. The album is in danger of dwindling away, withering towards its conclusion but the impression of decline is easily averted with closer ‘Team Jetstream’. The falsetto hook of “Nothing can come between us” playing off “Because I’m afraid Lord, I’m afraid” moulded into shape by keyboards washing up and against the vocals, under the weight of some second sun.

Swimming make you feel as though you’re in space, in the future, made of foam, and a whole host of compliments you couldn’t really pay another band. As the final song ends without so much as “goodbye”, having barely even hinted at its impending finish you’re left instantly missing those strange sensations.

Swimming’s last.fm sees them linked to Leeds’ Duels in something that could read as duet between two of Britain’s most criminally underrated bands. Swimming at their best could turn an empty room into a pulsating dancefloor littered with crystal trees and candyfloss clouds. Their music has a richness and texture that radiates ambition and, most of all, pure euphoria. Sometimes their ambition outstrips what can actually be pulled off, but that’s all forgiven in how much they can pull off, with aplomb. If Swimming had found four slightly better songs for a lacklustre third of the album it’d be very hard to leave out of end of year lists. As it is, it’ll just be very hard to leave out of your stereo.