15 August, 2013 in Music Reviews
Birmingham upstarts Swim Deep meld the frosty melodies of The Cure with The Stone Roses’ languid rhythms on their debut
ertain cities have a romantic entanglement with music. Liverpool has The Beatles and the pop that grew up alongside them, Manchester has the ‘Madchester’ scene, Seattle has grunge and New York, well, it has New York (narcissism oh so divine)! Birmingham, birthplace of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, has long felt unloved, ever watching from the corners of the bar as it watches its peers gather up the single genres and leave it to fumble blindly into isolation. It’s the alcohol-sedated protagonist of Radiohead’s Creep, stuck in the student union, imagining what it would be like to partake in life more fully.
This may be to set to change. England’s second city is in the throes of a musical romance in which Madchester is reimagined through the ears of Nirvana t-shirted youths who weren’t even alive to hear Ian Brown’s pine for adoration. Peace have already released their excellent debut album In Love, Jaws have bestowed their Wavves-like Milkshake EP upon listeners and now we have the Songwriting-tipped Swim Deep.
Time is a recurring theme in Where The Heaven Are We, with the lyrics mentioning clocks and watches, and the need not to be shackled by their hands. It’s not through words alone in which time holds prevalence: the music of Swim Deep is indebted to that of another time. Only it’s not just Brown and his cohorts that imbue the spirit of the quartet’s music, but also the frosty pop of mid-80s Cure. In fact, Where The Heavens Are We can essentially be read as a pure synthesis of Disintegration and The Head On The Door with Arcade Fire and the Roses’ eponymous debut.
The influence of The Cure is seen in album opener Francisco and persists throughout, with the moody melodies that made Disintegration such moodily infectious listening a feature. King City throws in a more modern reference with a touch of Arcade Fire in the bassline. Make My Sun Shine and She Changes The Weather have the laconic, languid rhythm of The Stone Roses.
As debuts go, Where The Heaven Are We is a truly fine effort, full of excellently crafted pop melodies and languid vocals that should see Birmingham’s romance with Madchester and frosty 80s pop become a national affair.
Verdict: Madchester meets The Cure