Swim Deep

Where the Heaven Are We

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It could easily be said that the debut album from British four-piece Swim Deep is a retro-centric slab of melodic dream pop that recalls the best of the genre. Indeed, the blissed-out ghosts of such late-'80s/early-‘90s bands as House of Love, Ride, and even the Stone Roses hover over most of Swim Deep's 2013 full-length Where in the Heaven Are We. Centered around lead singer/guitarist Austin Williams, the four-piece, who formed in Birmingham in 2011, have crafted a handful of utterly infectious indie pop cuts here. The songs bear all the hallmarks of albums released on labels like Creation, Factory, and Sire in the '80s and '90s. These are bass-heavy tunes layered with chiming, heavily effected guitars, synths, and light, dance-oriented drum beats, all of which eloquently frame Williams' yearning vocals and poetic lyrics. The members of Swim Deep weren't even born yet when most of the music that informs Where in the Heaven Are We was first released. Consequently, much in the same way the kids of the '80s and '90s free-associated the punk, funk, and hippie rock of the '60s and '70s, the members of Swim Deep treat much of the '80s and '90s as a kind of alt-rock grab bag that starts somewhere around 1986 with NME's C86 compilation, runs through Ride's 1990 album Nowhere, and ends with the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994. Swim Deep bring to mind a plaid and pastel-hued, Sassy magazine cute-band-alert pastiche of Gen-X slacker ideals, and they do so on an album that’s full of truly inspired melodic pop. Songs like the driving "King City" and the moody "Honey," with Williams' scolding refrain of "Don't just dream in your sleep, it’s just lazy" are uber-catchy soft grunge anthems. That said, if you still have any doubts about the band's ability to rise above the tsunami of their influences, the epic album-closer "She Changes the Weather," which finds the band delivering one the most mature and heartachingly sustained pieces of shoegaze swoonability this side of Ride's "Leave Them All Behind," should wash them away. Ultimately, the golden age of dream pop and shoegaze lasted roughly ten years, a blink in the eye when it comes to pop music. However, for Swim Deep with Where in the Heaven Are We, it’s almost like it never ended. As Williams ponders on "Francisco," "Was it a day, or was it forever?"

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