Daniel Snaith's entire career has been effectively built upon transitions, whether they be artistic or just in name. His newest statement is no different: basically an inverse of Andorra
, Snaith takes an obvious path by creating a caliginous counterpoint to its sunshiny predecessor. But what's really astonishing is the deftness with which he pulls this off. Snaith, taking clear-cut influences from artists like Luomo and Arthur Russell, crafts a venerable disco-slash-house album here, one that booms and shudders with the effectiveness of all great house records, yet without all the swagger. Snaith's demure vocals ground the driven arrangements of songs like "Leave House" and "Odessa", never overwhelming the minimalist beats but instead providing a sort of fortitude. Yet there's still a lingering feeling of fragility in his vocals, as if "Kaili", and its endlessly protruding rainbow of various instruments (which punctuate the scanty beats distressfully, but in a good way, mind you), is due to fall apart at any given moment.
This gives Swim
a feel of abstraction that doesn't let the album gel together, despite its similar sound and aesthetic throughout. This is a good thing: Swim
is the kind of minimalist record that could go gravely wrong if handled inappropriately; without enough flair, it could've been sort of a drag (for example, there's "Bowls", which is the one song on the album that drags its feet). But Snaith is apparently blessed with two things that prevent Swim
from becoming a travesty: his skill at engaging a sort of wistful nostalgia ("Hannibal", "Sun", "Lalibela"), and his prevailing melodic sense. The former point helps those aforementioned songs never even approach monotony, but it's the latter that's truly the clincher. There isn't a song on Swim
that isn't at least catchy, and however dissatisfied you may be with the album's atmosphere, you'll hum along with the hooks anyways.
is quite dark; this is definitely pop of the bedroom sort, and despite Snaith's vocals usually being indecipherable, buried underneath hissing drum machines and meretricious synths, there's a pervading sense of intimacy to the whole thing. I've returned time and time again to Swim
precisely because of this, this feeling of invitational bliss that you rarely receive for an album like this one. And I'm certain you'll return for the same reasons as well.
Also, it's great to get stoned to.