Swim Deep review – B-Town dream poppers on a surge

Electrowerkz, London
Birmingham band come out fighting with new tracks that add acid house and groove pop to their wafty sound

As the also-rans of the Birmingham scene – the Milltown Brothers to Peace’s Stone Roses – B-Town dream-poppers Swim Deep are, as singer Austin Williams has said, “shaving our heads and going to war”. They’re still reassuringly lank-haired, but they certainly take the stage tonight battle-ready. “We’re gonna start with the last song on our new album,” Williams tells a teen-girl-heavy crowd. “It’s a bit weird.”

Fueiho Boogie, a Joy Division psych-drone that harks back to the 10 minutes that the Horrors were briefly interesting in 2009, is only weird if you’re a wafty pop band trading largely on teen-friendly looks and the smattering of catchy tracks from 2013 debut Where the Heaven Are We that recalled the plastic indie of Simple Minds, Haircut 100, James and Bastille. But as the song reaches a coruscating finale akin to two space stations colliding, it feels like a bold and courageous swerve off-road.

Swim Deep have been describing their forthcoming second album as “psychedelic sex music” and “zero-gravity gospel for the masses”, but the new material aired tonight finds them widening B-Town’s baggy revival blinkers to take in peripheral glimpses of the acid house and groove pop of the same early-90s era. New single To My Brother mingles the Stone Roses’ Love Spreads with the electro-octopus squelches of Transglobal Underground and Altern-8, and One Great Song successfully mates New Order atmos with Dee-Lite sass. Namaste, a blaze of game-show horns and Supremes falsettos, even resembles the Take Me Out theme gone Motown. Dazzling stuff.

Plus, they trim their early material to the leanest prime cuts: the Ride euphoria of She Changes the Weather, King City’s Arcade Fire wails and a Loaded-esque Red Lips I Know that sees Williams indulging in some jerky Tim Booth-spirit dancing, wielding his tambourine like a rabid Bez. Consider them B-Town’s late-surging front-runners.

• At King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, 3 April. Box office: 0141-221 5279.


Mark Beaumont

The GuardianTramp

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