Younghusband - Swimmers - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Younghusband - Swimmers

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2019-06-07
Younghusband - Swimmers
Younghusband - Swimmers

After promoting and touring 2015’s Dissolver (one of my albums of that year), Younghusband took a long break. They reunited to record Swimmers in a barn in Greenwich. Drummer Peter Blake plays on the album but has subsequently left the band.

Swimmers start quietly with the quiet keyboard introduction to Sister. Soon the whole band join in playing their strange folk-rock changes and arpeggios. The chords change quickly so the song never settles into familiar melodies. The sound is warm behind Euan Hinshelwood’s vocal. Grinding Teeth starts with primitive drum machine and an adventurous bass line from Joe Chilton. There are some ghostly keyboards, but little else. It is a change to their usual sound and has the same toy-like, repetitive, Kraut-Pop feel to some of Yo La Tengo’s work. The melody is less adventurous but suits the instrumentation. The bass also drives Broken In Half Again. Again, the changes are a little strange, quite like Syd Barrett’s – that constantly-evolving quality, so you’re never quite sure where a song is heading. Paradise In The Rain is more obviously Pop – pop synths, pop bass-line, more predictable melodically until, typically, the chorus starts meandering about. There’s a nice touch of pedal-steel on it too. The instrumental surprises continue with the appearance of steel drums on Sucker, and it’s testament to the strength of the song and the band that they don’t stick out as strange – sonically, they work. It’s Not Easy is a lovely, acoustic ballad that is almost Beatles-like if it wasn’t for the curious timing of the changes on the chorus – all intentional of course. XTC might be another touchstone – a band that loved pop but also didn’t believe in making it easy on the listener. A pretty guitar intro starts Translation. The chords are quite Lou Reed and the chorus is their most obvious on the album – a light and pleasant piece of weird pop. There’s more strong bass-playing on What’s Wrong and, with the solid drumming, it gives it the feeling of a Joe Jackson track. Again, Hinshelwood’s and Adam Beach’s guitars complement each other well. There are shades of Manic Monday about the intro to Modern Lie (more 60s-80s influences). It’s a neat band performance with little ideas coming in and out and also pretty unashamedly pop. Different About You closes the album. There is the suspicion of fretless bass on this. It’s a bit like the more delicate pop songs of Blur, another band that liked to throw a surprise into a pop song.

Younghusband’s last album, Dissolver, had a lovely autumnal feeling to it and reminded me of The Byrds and The Velvet Underground. Swimmers is a little trickier but for laudable reasons. They’re still a lovely-sounding band, but they seem to have consciously not gone for the obvious chord changes and arrangements. They are very skilled in this in that they haven’t allowed this to be jarring. By intention, there are fewer bangers on Swimmers. The intention here seems to be to become a band where the listeners don’t know what to expect from each song or album. The result is that you are now more interested in their next album than you would have been if Swimmers had been Dissolver 2.

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