Because they came out of Georgia's then-fledgling new wave scene in the late 1970s, the Swimming Pool Q's usually get lumped in with the great Southern jangle pop brigade alongside R.E.M., Pylon, and Guadalcanal Diary -- which suggests the people doing the comparing never spent much time listening to the band. The group's 1981 debut, The Deep End, shows the Swimming Pool Q's shared a fondness for angular pop hooks with the above-mentioned groups, but that's where most of the similarities end. The guitars of Bob Elsey and Jeff Calder aim less for chime than for sharp aural twists and turns, the vocals from Calder and Anne Richmond Boston are soulful with just the right amount of grit to make the willful surrealism of the lyrics stick, and the band's melodic sense suggests Pere Ubu's Southern brethren, with the noise factor turned down, the psychedelic influences given greater room to move, and the arrangements given a oddly cheerful exterior that only made the dark undercurrents creepier. Lyrically, The Deep End captures a band fully in touch with their Southernness, but their take on life below the Mason-Dixon line is mixed with equal parts good humor and not-so-subtle menace; "Stick in My Hand" is (literally) a redneck nightmare come to life, "Stock Car Sin" and "Big Fat Tractor" embrace Southern stereotypes with mingled joy and terror, and "Overheated" sounds like something Flannery O'Connor might have come up with had she had been a twenty-something in Atlanta in the 1970s. The Swimming Pool Q's didn't sound much like anyone else who emerged from the Deep South at the time, and The Deep End proves they had both the chops and the ambition to make something special of their strange vision. The 2001 reissue of the album adds 13 bonus tracks to the album's original 11 tunes, ranging from songwriting demos and pre-album single tracks to an song that didn't make the cut for the band's 1989 major-label swan song; the result is as complete a look at this band's unique world view as you're ever likely to find in one package.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming