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BOTW Review: Swim Deep – Where the Heaven Are We

Swim Deep’s debut album Where the Heaven Are We is a shimmering ocean of bright and beautiful dream pop. A multi-textured and languid trove that’s almost horizontal, the record is abundant in mutated early-90s throwbacks that fit this era and its mindset perfectly.

On the face of it Where the Heaven Are We is a clichéd ‘summer’ album that ‘compliments the heatwave perfectly/will be the soundtrack to your holiday/reflects the urban heat’ etc. when in reality the album will pierce through summer and continue on throughout winter and beyond. Swim Deep have created a long-lasting record that is much more than its twangy, twinkle-haze surface suggests, with substantial lyrics and fantastic production.

Opening with the instantly loveable ‘Francisco’, the album immediately signals its intent to lift weary hearts and minds, with bittersweet lyrics and the most memorable riffs on the record. Standout track and Swim Deep’s debut single ‘King City‘ shows a slightly darker, snarling upper-lip side to the Birmingham four-piece with sentiments that every listener will recall: unrequited or unaware love during bubblegum and turbulent adolescence that often continues to manifest itself long into adulthood.

Quickly building a guitar/vocal crescendo before the bright and crunchy verses create grunge-pop excellence, ‘The Sea’ is brilliantly placed in-between ‘Make My Sun Shine’ and ‘Red Lips I Know’; punching, kicking and thrashing around to create sunlight either side of two heavy distortion tracks that would have otherwise overwhelmed the listener. However, both tracks also show what Swim Deep do so well, with bottomless and bombastic guitars taking what The Stone Roses, Suede and countless others started and crafting it into something individual and unique – Swim Deep aren’t just resuscitating the reverberated guitar sound – they’re blasting one thousand volts through its system and inadvertently burning down the exhausted and overused house of ‘indie’ that has ignored it for years.

The only disappointing moment on Where the Heaven Are We is closing track ‘She Changes the Weather‘. Despite the closing of the album begging for an enormous and egocentric blast of sound to slap the listener into going back to the start, we are instead given a deliberately slow and petered out finale that feels a bit damp. However, this ending does emphasise the unhurried and easy-going nature of Where the Heaven Are We.

Originally pioneering the British heavy metal movement of the 70s and 80s through the likes of Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, Birmingham music is now flourishing under the B-Town scene which Swim Deep is trailblazing alongside (amongst others) Peace and Troumaca. Where the Heaven Are We is a quintessential B-Town record that could be around for a very long time.

- Luke Langlands

Where the Heaven Are We is available from August 5 on Chess Club/RCA Victor. ‘King City’ is out now. Swim Deep appear in Notion’s free festival guide for iPad and Windows 8 – head to one of the below links to nab your copy now.

Download the Free Notion Festival Guide:

Notion Magazine for iPad
Notion Magazine for Windows 8

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