Across the land’s hallowed institutions of higher education, young people are currently donning silly hats and robes en masse. It’s graduation time. Encaenia and the subsequent wild partying ceremoniously mark the moment when you leave your student bubble, and hopefully metamorphose into an independent, mature, and beautiful flower of a person too. This second bit sometimes happens.
Swim Deep are graduating from a different sort of institution, because since the band emerged they’ve been consistently labeled as Digbeth alumni. ‘Where The Heaven Are We’ might stem from a scene in a Midlands city, but it doesn’t rely on it. These days ‘being B-town’ seems to just mean you’re mates with Peace and JAWS. It doesn’t tell you anything about what Swim Deep have created themselves.
So, away with all this B-town drivel, because this is not an album built around new fads and bandwagons. ‘Where The Heaven Are We’ is an album with its foundations cemented in lasting nostalgia and a overarching love of great music. Fusing spacey, wavy psychedelia with baggy Hacienda, and then smashing in angsty shoegaze and a waft of synthpop for good measure is the sort of ‘reckless’ genre-clashing that might prompt a town hall meeting of angry devotees withering on about integrity. Swim Deep, though, have a brilliantly flippant pick and mix attitude to music bygone that only a young, enthusiastic, hungry band can pull off. Swim Deep are not shy about their influences either; in fact they are positively brimming with them.
The melodramatic snare sounds of ‘Francisco’ breathe with Cure-ish melodies, and Austin Williams’ bittersweet, maudlin lyricism owes more than a smidgen of gratitude to The Smiths. Slinky guitar melodies and tumbling snares on ‘Stray’ may as well be ‘Lovecats’ hit by a ten tonne truck of melancholy. ‘King City’ sounds like a stomping gothic synth-relic transported to 2013 with the ease of Doctor Who’s TARDIS.
Swim Deep don’t just play tribute on ‘Where The Heaven Are We’ – they make all their influences add up to something that belongs firmly to them. This album is cherry-picked nostalgia with a shimmering polish; fit for the more-hip-than-thou connoisseurs and the eager radio consumer alike. Swim Deep have written a youthful, entertaining debut that it’s hard to find fault with, and they graduate from B-Town with a first class degree.
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