Swimming - Ecstatics International
A near faultless, cliché-free exploration of contemporary synth pop - how’s that for an opening statement (and poster quote)?
Ok, so I may be exaggerating slightly, but Ecstatics International, the second album from Nottingham five-piece Swimming, really is rather good. A party record on the whole, it dances between euphoric pop and well…euphoric pop. If this were the work of a semi-edgy boy band (answers on a postcard please, clue: there isn’t one) it’d be hailed as a pop masterpiece. What I’m trying to say is these guys have made a near faultless…you get the picture.
Take lead single ‘Neutron Wireless Crystal’. Choppy synth swells fight for your attention before the band kicks into what sounds like – and they’ll wince at the comparison – a really, really great Savage Garden song (a contradiction in terms I know). If it all goes horribly wrong, they could do worse than sell a song like this to The Wanted. I’m being deadly serious.
‘In Ecstatics’ melds thrillingly unnerving melodic leaps with Kele Okereke style yelps – “Ecstatics! Ecstatics! Ecstatics!” – as frontman John Sampson invites the listener back to his place for a brief peak at his Raison d'être (“I never feel like I’m free/Until You’re singing with me/Gotta keep me going, gotta keep me going”). Like the rest of the album, ‘In Ecstatics’ is mixed loud with plenty of top-end, assaulting the ears in the most delicious way possible. ‘Kid Global’ raids the ever expanding larder of contemporary Scandinavian pop: big drums, fluttering synths and a mid 80s melodic sensibility combine perfectly to create a snowstorm of sound, reminiscent of Finland’s mighty Rubik.
If Chris Martin and co. really do want to try their hand at ‘’re-inventing the wheel”, (rather than turning out dirge like ‘Every Teardrop is a Waterfall’, scientifically proven to be the worst song of 2011), then the anthemic ‘I Do (Come True)’ would serve them well as a blueprint. It’s like a Coldplay song beamed in from the year 2054. ‘Sun in the Island’ stays just on the right side of cheesy, a sci-fi love story bringing to mind Hot Gossip’s ‘I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper’. The rampant psychedelia of ‘Fire at Blue Point’ and the more conventional ‘Beat Beat of your Heartbeat’ demonstrate the band’s mastery of the indie-pop song. ‘Classic 1001 Dreams’ picks up where ‘Neutron Wireless Crystal’ left off; ‘All Things Made New (Stand)’ takes the pop baton and runs with it.
The only sour note is ‘Mining for Diamonds’. I refer to it in my notes as “a bit of a downer…a bit early, shame to spoil the party”, which it does, albeit momentarily. It’s a fixable kink in an otherwise faultless suit of armour. Buy this album now, I implore you.
Purchase and listen
You really have to applaud Birdy for covering some gargantuan ‘indie’ songs and technically passing them off as her own material. You know what they say, ‘good artists borrow, great artists steal’ and Birdy is a perfect example of this, although I don’t think you could class her as a great artist, not yet. [read more]
Internet Forever have won, people. It’s time to drink up that macchiato, shut down your MacBook and go home. Having formed back in 2008 off the back of a comments section on a blog, I can remember hearing their debut single ‘Cover The Walls’ for the first time: me; the young, naïve, wannabe blogger who’d just discovered an alternative lo-fi universe... [read more]
After rocking the local Oxford scene with their nautically themed post rock instrumentals, Listing Ships have set sail for more distant shores with their new EP The 100 Gun Ship. They've hoist the mainbrace and lowered the spinnaker (no I don't know what it means either but it sounds like the sort of things sailors might say) seeking fame and fortune far from their Oxford home. [read more]