Album Review: Swim Deep – Mothers

The band themselves have described their second album as ‘psychedelic sex music’ and it’s easy to see why, says

Swim Deep Mothers ★★★★★

How a B-town quintet manage to conjure up scenes of an eighties disco with tracksuit-donning teens crammed into a school hall, and make it look good, I’m still trying to get my head around. If Where the Heaven Are We was the leisured, rose-tinted debut, then Mothers is the vibrant, escapist wonder-record, marking an outstanding progression and diversification in what makes dream-indie evoke nostalgia. The band themselves have described their second album as ‘psychedelic sex music’ and ‘zero-gravity gospel for the masses’, and with vocalist Austin Williams at one point crooning “I start to get the feeling all I do is preach to my brother” layered over a plethora of glistening synths, it’s easy to see why.

Take album opener ‘One Great Song and I Could Change the World’. Acrobatic percussion and a propelling synthesiser in the opening verse frame Williams’ echoing choirboy vocals, which gradually escalates towards a plunging instrumental melody of electronic pulses and lyrical dalliances. The track is essentially a knock on the door of some conceptual utopia, which couldn’t be any less surprising for a band whose frontman every now and then sports a t-shirt with ‘tampons should be free’ written on it. Swim Deep are only flirting with these notions of utopia here though, making way for a euphoric potluck. ‘To My Brother’ launches boisterously, and it begins to become apparent that Mothers is altogether a more dynamic, more instrumentally experimental follow-up. Where ‘Red Lips I Know’ felt languid, almost lethargic, ‘To My Brother’ expels any doubts that Swim Deep can’t create a record that is both melodically complex and catchy as hell. Equally masterful ‘Imagination’ and ‘Green Conduit’ offer charming shades to an already brimming colour palette.

The courageous deliverance of ‘Fueiho Boogie’ proves to be a perfectly pitched finale to what feels like an intergalactic spaceship detonating only to reveal a heap of glitter.

Named after a ‘reverential salutation’ from Ancient India, ‘Namaste’ marks the giddying, iridescent climax of Mothers. On paper it shouldn’t really work: the synthesisers could easily soundtrack a nineties gameshow, the baseline is reminiscent of the buzz of an arcade, and the title is quite possibly the most hippy cliché there ever was. Yet that’s the genius of it. Unlike a number of tracks that feature on Mothers, ‘Namaste’ doesn’t construct its layers over a period of three and a half minutes; it begins as a glorious, pre-formed melting pot of groove pop and acid house, with just a dash of disco. Meanwhile, the ‘plastic is fantastic’ motif is quite impressively evoked in ‘Grand Affection.’ The song offers a real diamond in the rough with ‘all those jewels and all those crowns / why don’t the queen go feed the hungry’ (Get it? Puns aside, they do make a good point). The record continues to be the perfect soundtrack to halcyon days with ‘Is Anybody Out There’, an intergalactic hark bolstering seamless guitar threads to create a stellar, out-of-this-world atmosphere.

The height of ambition takes place in the last eight and a half minutes of Mothers, however, with a Joy Division-meets-Tame Impala whirr of pure bliss. ‘Fueiho Boogie’, with its keyboard interludes and gospel discourse, seems an almost surprising turn for a quintet whose fanbase comprises of a fair few who listen to ‘King City’ followed by some Bastille monotony on their iPods. The title itself heralds to the recently lifted Fueiho law, which prohibited dancing in Japanese clubs, and I daresay you’d have great difficulty not throwing some shapes at this confetti bomb of a song. A propelling synth melody forms the backbone of the track, which is complimented by a strident percussion core that becomes increasingly penetrating. “We’re in the house of fun” is carried across each subdivision of the track as an ever-escalating bed of synths are dazzlingly layered at meteoric speed which, like clockwork, abruptly culminates with a crescendo of sound. The courageous deliverance of ‘Fueiho Boogie’ proves to be a perfectly pitched finale to what feels like an intergalactic spaceship detonating only to reveal a heap of glitter.

Mothers truly is the crystallisation of everything that makes this five piece so special, and Swim Deep’s disco ball is tiled with galvanized steel. A Marmite record it may be, this reviewer certainly knows which side of the fence she stands.

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