Ecstatics International

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From their impossible-to-find name, to their avant-garde video art, to their headphone-only live shows, Nottingham quintet Swimming have never been a band to follow the crowd. But while their proggy debut, The Fireflow Trade, felt slightly off-kilter from everything else on the indie scene at the time, their follow-up, Ecstatics International, appears to have one eye firmly on replicating the success of space rock's biggest players. The swirling spacy synths and dreamy bubblegum melodies of "Kid Global" echoes the feel-good psych-pop of MGMT before they ditched the hooks, the post-punk riffs and the otherworldly falsetto tones of frontman John Sampson on "Beat Beat of Your Heartbeat" recall the glacial indie rock of Denmark's finest, Mew, while there are traces of Doves on the yearning cinematics of "I Do (Come True)," Kasabian on the downbeat dubstep-inspired "Mining for Diamonds," and Muse on the trippy theatrics of "Classic 1001 Dreams." However, the record's constant and unashamed 1980s vibes ensure that Swimming are still capable of sticking out from the crowd, as on "Neutron Wireless Crystal," the Gary Numan-inspired nu-synth opener dedicated to the crystals used in early transistor radios, the Brat Pack soundtrack beats on the shoegazing sci-fi of "Sun in the Island," and the shimmering Echo & the Bunnymen-esque guitars on the kaleidoscopic post-rock of "All Things Made New (Stand)." A cohesive but slightly repetitive affair, Ecstatics International occasionally matches the euphoria of its obvious influences, but it's perhaps a little too aimless to propel Swimming into the big league.

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