The Names

Swimming + Singles

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The Names' Swimming isn't the sharpest arrow in infamous producer Martin Hannett's quiver, and the Belgian group indeed wallowed in the obscurity that journalist Jon Savage claimed they didn't deserve, but the record still fares rather well as a second-tier post-punk record. Starting off with a relatively upbeat first side and eventually drifting into a not exactly inventive morass of lumpen tempos and a rather off-putting level of mopey meandering (a sequencing scheme conceived by the producer), it certainly isn't the most listener-friendly record of its era. Like a number of bands that favored their rhythm sections and keyboard dressing over guitar pyrotechnics and over-emotive vocals, the Names truly come to life when they find a sticky groove capable of scaling tall buildings and allow it to take center stage ("Life By the Sea," "Discovery"). Otherwise, the songs risk losing their tether and dissipate. Reissued in 1991 as Swimming + Singles, the attentive archivists at Factory Benelux tacked on "Calcutta," "Nightshift," and "The Astronaut," a trio of decent to great singles that add significant value to the overall package. Along with another key 7" release that can be found on the Spectators of Life compilation, the bonus tracks show that the Names were much better at the singles game. The Factory-issued "Nightshift," a nocturnally glum tune that somehow manages to glisten in a manner similar to Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," stands as one of the Names' standout moments, if not their absolute best. And don't miss the B-side, "I Wish I Could Speak Your Language," which impressively mimics the "no midrange" features of PiL's Metal Box with deep lows and piercing highs, along with a Lydon-unlike romantic lyric. (Les Temps Modernes reissued the reissue in 2000.)

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