Review Summary: Don't just dream in your sleep, it's just lazy...
Birmingham’s Swim Deep are a shoegaze/dream-pop quartet who craft stylised yet not wholly substantial light guitar music. Debut “Where the Heaven Are We” floats by pleasantly on a stream of airy guitar pop which borrows ideas from the genre’s past but fails to match inspiration with much originality. What’s left is music that is narrowly enjoyable and formulaically solid, yet simultaneously quite empty and derivative.
Swim Deep are at their most enjoyable on their singles, which are frontloaded on this LP aside from the triumphant “She Changes the Weather”. On the dreamy “Intro” Austin Williams sweetly murmurs poetic nothings such as “she grows the flowers in my mind”, which appropriately sets the tone of what is to come. Such lyrics have a slight poetic prettiness to them yet when examined closer don’t really hold much weight. On another bright track, “Honey”, Williams nonchalantly sings “don’t just dream in your sleep, it’s just lazy” – a solid and minorly provocative earworm but one that isn’t really that deep.
One may argue that dream pop is more about the colour and shade around the words than the words themselves, and in that sense lines like the aforementioned work pretty well. But at the same time the music (and often the other words) surrounding the few memorable hook lines often fails to make much of a mark either. At times it’s pretty and silky, like on the uber-light pop of “Francisco”, but overall fails to impact enough to be anything more than pleasant. When the band try to be more forceful (and that term is used gently, as this is a very light and dreamy record) on “King City” they actually shine more light through their cloudy aesthetic than at any other time, with its pulsing beat and deeper vocals. It can be a difficult genre in which to create music that actually impacts, and when Swim Deep ever so slightly lean away from shoegaze on numbers like “King City” there is a small sense that they may have some stronger ideas of their own but such notions get a little lost in the trappings of their genre choice.
“Where the Heaven Are We” is quite an average listen in conclusion. The band are solid, there are a few standout lines and musical hooks along the way but in the end the lack of originality and vigour clouds the small traces of something stronger at hand. Here’s hoping Swim Deep can drift out of the clouds and display their pop charm with more originality and confidence in the future, lest they remain pleasant background music artists.