EP Review: Swimming Tapes: Soft Sea Blue

‘Full of vocal and guitar based earworms, the musical world of Swimming Tapes is one you have to dive into’

Background to Swimming Tapes
Releasing their highly successful debut single ‘Souvenirs’ back in March 2016, 5 piece London-based band Swimming Tapes are back with their EP ‘Soft Sea Blue,’ (released today.) Consisting of Robbie Reid, Jason Hawthorne, Louis Price, Paddy Conn and Andrew Evans, they create a sound that’s as joyful as the best summer ever and as crisp as the ocean on the coldest winter’s day. In short this is instantly enjoyable guitar based pop music at its best. Read on to find out why you should be diving into the musical world of Swimming Tapes now.

EP Review
Opening the EP, ‘When We Can Hide,’ with its driving drum introduction and echo-effected guitar lines, pushes us off the diving board and into the wonderfully musical waters of ‘Soft Sea Blue’. As becomes apparent in the EP, this is a trademark of Swimming Tapes’ music and it is one that is incredibly effective. As the lyrics enter – after what seems like a quite a long, but highly enjoyable introduction – you quickly realise that there is something unusual going on. The melody, which is immediately catchy, is being doubled and harmonised not by vocals, but by guitar. This, while it may sound like an obvious thing to do, isn’t something I have heard frequently, if indeed at all. Musically it is simple but its affect is beautiful. As the track develops, the use of harmony also occurs in similar ways and through multi-tracked vocals in the verse and chorus sections, it is a track, which like a springboard, is full of bounce and energy.

Previously released as a single earlier this year, Track 2 ‘Alison’ is similarly joyful and with infectiously catchy guitar riffs, which are panned to the extremes, you are swallowed up by the feel good sound. Unlike the opening track, the drum pattern has a greater sense of playing an accompanying role but while it blends into the texture, it also has enough interest to give the track momentum. However, none of this gets in the way of the lead vocal and with changes of dynamics between verse and chorus, it has power and subtlety in all the right places. Full of vocal and guitar based earworms, ‘Alison’ gets stuck in your head for all the best reasons.

Moving to Track 3 ‘What’s on your Mind,’ we hear the much calmer atmosphere that Swimming Tapes can produce and with a more relaxed guitar accompaniment, you feel more like you are watching the waves than playing among them. However, don’t for one second think that this makes for a weaker track. It certainly doesn’t and while it may have laid-back funk/jazz inspired bass guitar lines instead of the more full-on sound experienced so far, they are equally effective. Equally laid-back sounding are the lyrics, which combined with the dreamy instrumental interludes that occur towards the end, you completely drown in musical gorgeousness.

Concluding this EP, the introduction to ‘Queen’s Parade,’ fuses the openings of the previous tracks creating a perfect combination, and why wouldn’t it? There are so many great features that it would be wrong not to use them. After the highly panned opening, the lyrics enter and in a return to the style of the opening track, we hear multi-tracked harmonies. This brings a new depth to the track and working perfectly with the surrounding accompaniment, it is a simply wonderful sound. However, it is not as wonderful as what follows and as the track continues, unexpected word settings and quasi-improvised guitar riffs create a full on ending to the EP. I’m pretty certain that with music like this, Swimming Tapes will be making a big splash very soon.

You can follow Swimming Tapes on Facebook and Soft Sea Blue by Swimming Tapes is avaliable to purchase on iTunes from today.

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