Okay Swim Deep, let’s address the elephant in the room: naming your song ‘Hotel California‘ is an unforgivable musical crime tantamount to a non-tribute group choosing to call themselves Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or, worse, a singer-songwriter covering ‘Valerie’.
I don’t care if it’s a vaguely subversive statement designed to screw over Spotify searches, nor is it to be excused by the fact Austin Williams is actually singing about singing The Eagles’ jukebox classic. Nice Swimception… Deep. Even Fall Out Boy had the common decency to call their song about humming along to Leonard Cohen ‘Hum Hallelujah’ rather than ‘Hallelujah’. To borrow a phrase from Zaphod Beeblebrox, “Okay, so ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking, yeah?”
Thankfully, despite this one overwhelming con, everything else about this track errs on the side of pro. Swim Deep are good at doing one thing and one thing only: weaving slick cocoons of summery goop in which to warmly revel in until September ends. Unlike Peace and JAWS (fellow alumni of the unprecedented hype that grew up around Birmingham’s underground scene, which approximately no one calls ‘B-town’, in 2013) they have never been abashed about wholeheartedly embracing optimism and hope in both their lyrics and their music; a trend that pays off dividends in woozy psychedelia-flecked early cuts such as this. The band’s sepia-tinged vocals have never sounded more carefree, and the largely guitar-less synth which this track surfs to the shore on is reminiscent of The Charlatans at their most breezy. “I’m gonna fly a plane, fill it up with all my favourite names,” Williams promises earnestly, sounding like Jeff Magnum from Neutral Milk Hotel if he’d taken nicer drugs.
There is a danger, however, that the band’s journey towards peak bagginess might leave them stuck down a musical cul-de-sac. Swim Deep have yet to display the inspired innovation of Jagwar Ma or The Horrors, and both ‘Hotel California’ and its corresponding A-side ‘To My Brother’ could have been offcuts of their debut Where The Heaven Are We. In an age where bands only have the longevity of their latest record, Swim Deep’s next LP will have to contain something more memorable in order to make them stand out from the rest of their oversaturated scene. That being said, their admirable commitment to contentment might prove to be their ace in the hole. This track might not incite the kind of hands-in-the-air euphoria of ‘Honey’ and ‘King City’, but it manages to instil a sense of boundless joy that’s somehow both more personal and further removed than previous releases.