Vocalist/guitarist and songwriter Dan Glendining often sounds like Sting doing his best Thom Yorke impression on Headswim's second full-length release Despite Yourself. Released in 1997, this recording from the Glendining-led Essex, England outfit fortunately boasts enough strong individual material to prevent the record from being a mere acknowledgement of trendy influences. Glendining used Despite Yourself at least partly to express his sorrow over the death of his brother Matthew in 1994, and the results are gentle, musical, and in some cases touching. Joining Glendining on this recording is the long-time Headswim lineup of bassist Clovis Taylor, drummer Tom Glendining, and keyboard player Nick Watts. Highlights include the desperate and yearning "Clinging to the Wreckage" and "Holy Ghost," but the best track might be the Radiohead-inspired "Better Made," with its sprawling, emotive chorus and tremolo guitar accompaniment that echoes some of The Bends' finer moments. Too derivative for lofty praise or emphatic recommendation, Despite Yourself is an exquisite exercise in catharsis and musical tribute nonetheless.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson