With the added production of Adam Jaffrey (Gengahr, Palace), Swimming Tapes’ second EP is a development from their previous effort and shows a band continuing their rise to power.
EP opener ‘When We Can Hide’ begins life as a speedball of punk drums and drowsy guitars as council estate meets Real Estate. But as the vocals come in we return to the dreamy jangle pop of last year’s debut EP ‘Souvenirs’. With that genre as saturated as this band’s guitar tone; what sets Swimming Tapes apart is their vocal harmonies. With singing duties shared between Robbie Reid and Louis Price whose voices merge with the intricacies of their guitar playing it is the Beach Boys meet Beach Fossils.
The interplay between singers on the previous track is transferred into the guitar pattern on ‘Alison’. This song has more guts and drive than ‘When We Can Hide’ and is reminiscent of some of the band’s older tracks, such as ‘Set the Fire’. The three-pronged guitar attack is pure Television, but with the sun drenched melodies of Wild Nothings.
‘What’s on Your Mind’ is a shift in pace but not in style. What’s more, this sedate song puts the band’s straightforward lyrics front and centre. Opening with “Lying quiet on the bed, sleepy Sunday morning, / Fingers playing with your hair, and the cigarette your holding”; the lyrics are close to cliched and far from original. Also, despite the fact it lifts the track, the chorus of “say what’s on your mind” is very similar to the Allah-lah’s ‘Tell Me What’s On your Mind’ and the repetition grows tiresome after a while.
Luckily the band’s strongest effort follows. ‘Queen’s Parade’ features superior lyrics, harmonies and guitar work and it is clear why this is showcased in a recent music video by the band. The “I don’t wanna believe it” refrain proves that these boys have a penchant for pop hooks, while the ending has experimental excursions. In the nicest possible way, the finale of the EP is the finest part; with the shoegaze guitars and synths it sounds like a band on the cusp of greatness.
All in all this is a ‘nice’ EP. It won’t change the world and has its moments of weakness, but is listenable to and perfectly inoffensive. But more than just showcasing a good band who clearly can write songs and play together ‘Soft Sea Blue’ provides optimism; not for merely being ‘nice’ but because Swimming Tapes sound like they have a lot more to offer us in the future.
‘Soft Sea Blue’ is out now via Hand In Hive Records. In support the band are playing a headline show at The Lexington on 20th September.