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.