By Erika Firestone
Admittance is the first step. Swim Deep, admitting their lust for fame and intentions of changing pop, are the elements that are making this indie rock band from Birmingham, England, skyrocket off of their first album “Where the Heaven Are We.” The album is a tribute to ’90s roll-out-of-bed rock in the New Wave, induced with synth beats and poppy hooks. Swim Deep’s likeliness to Bloc Party gives them leverage and validates their Brit rock sound while their lyrical abilities to flow freely through the more positive and inquisitive sides of adolescence set their songwriting apart.
Austin Williams’ vocals are unassertive which, makes assertively blunt lyrics like “Fuck your romance/ I wanna pretend that Jenny Lee Lindberg is my girlfriend” (a reference to the bassist of the band Warpaint) in “King City” stand out so pleasantly. The album feeds off the four pieces’ musical chemistry, which is impressive for a first album, but it also contains many rookie mistakes, like creating the skeleton of a dynamic album with amped-up singles, lightly supported by the lackadaisical effort put into “filler” songs such as “Make My Sun Shine” and “Red Lips I Know.”
Hook-filled hits such as “Honey,” “King City” and “Francisco” save the day and make the entire album worth listening to while the bland songs merely seem relaxing in greater context. The intro sets a slow grungy tone with screen door vocal recordings, incorporated enough throughout the album to maintain their British indie rock obligation to hometown and genre, including their pals in Jaws and Peace, who have been receiving critical acclaim for their earlier releases. “Francisco” starts right up with a completely different, indie pop sound and a generic rock countdown that could be done without. Their first significant lyrics come in with “I got my hopes up baby when I was under.” The use of synth drums in this song creates a more spot-on sound, which serves as another example of their dive into pop. One of the best movements in the album is the graceful transition from “Honey” into “Colour Your Ways,” an extremely positive song both lyrically and musically.
Progressing through some bland and lacking songs, the middle of the album finishes off with “Soul Trippin.” “Like, I wanna be on TV and in magazines/ Drive up to beaches in limousines” is a spot where Swim Deep admits their longing for the travels and material pleasures that come along with fame. It happened previously in “King City” with “I wanna be everything that I’m not/ I wanna be rich, I wanna show off.” Both of these lines have relative importance to why they are doing something different in the New Wave of Brit indie pop. It is common that only rappers state their desire for the material — the specific girls and goods they want. Rarely do indie rock bands admit they want much more than a stable relationship after heartbreak and to climb up out of the independent labels and bar venues into stardom. Swim Deep’s ability to bluntly incorporate these alongside scenes of innocence and adolescence show their drive and determination, more so than the tone of their music — light guitar, lazy day music — to break the levies of pop and pour in with something more original and substantial.
It seems that Swim Deep is a band to look out for in the coming years as they dive deeper into their own abilities to influence pop outside of Britain.