So, Melbourne eh? Seriously, this city must be amazing. Is there anyone living there who isn’t in a fantastic band? Enter newcomers Swim Team who, whilst sharing many sensibilities of the aforementioned, offer something slightly different to the scene on their debut album. Their chiming lead guitars, vocal harmonies and simple melodies are at times reminiscent of The Vaselines or Young Marble Giants (“Grown Up” and “5AM 5PM”) and at others the naïve and very honest early works of Ben Lee (“Home Time” and “Are You Into Me”) but with the light touch and sparkle of Camera Obscura.
There is another side to the band though, which they display on tracks like “Everyday Things”.
It’s a little rougher around the edges and more playful, the lyrics a knowing complaint about first world problems. It’s a real cracker of a tune.“Forever and Ever” has an unusual vocal melody that almost doesn’t work with the backing track. It feels at various points like it is on the edge of wandering away from the song completely, cramming words into spaces they don’t logically fit. This could seem like a negative criticism but this is what makes the song endearing. It’s like Dot Wiggin of The Shaggs with The Smiths as a backing band.
“Time and Sacrifice” opening on a drum beat, is perhaps the most inventively produced and written song here, introducing space, vocal delay effects and has a brilliant chorus “Taking its toll on me” the guitar playing at the same melody as the vocals to really satisfying effect. There is generally some really gorgeous guitar playing in this song, making time for a sweet solo.
Lyrically it’s an introspective rumination on the effects of time and changes in life, which seems to be a running theme throughout the album.
“New Year” carries on this lyrical sombre mood. With it’s straight forward beat, prominent bassline and guitars absolutely drenched in reverb, it’s almost like a breezier indie pop Interpol. “5AM 5PM” brings the pace back up, like a slightly punky Vaselines. A nervous tension runs throughout accompanied with dark lyrics.
“Glare” continues the momentum, the vocals shared throughout with a vocal melody. At times it recalls Sebadoh and at others (although this may seem a strange comparison) The Longpigs. “Black To Blonde” again pulls off the trick of the instrumentation and vocals playing the same tune in the chorus. This draws comparison to The Raincoats.
When Swim Team embrace their punkier side they still retain a breeziness through the sweet reverb soaked guitars.
They don’t really ramp up the distortion. Following track “Navigating Change” comes the closest to doing this. The speak-singing vocals also really put the Australian accent into the foreground, which provides a nice contrast. There’s a hint of Parquet Courts style whimsy on display.“Work Out Right” is a fine indie pop album closer with a melancholic reflection and deconstruction of a failing relationship, ending the album on a bitter-sweet tone. Swim Team veer between tongue in cheek, sardonic, serious and earnest, showing a depth of personality that not many bands manage. We look forward to hearing more from them.
You may enjoy this if you like: The Vaselines, Camera Obscura, The Raincoats, Belle and Sebastian, Parquet Courts