Swimmers is the third outing of London four-piece Younghusband led by singer/songwriter Euan Hinshelwood who commented that “There were so many things we liked and disliked about our first two records,” which led to the band trying to achieve “A middle ground. I wanted to bring us back to that place between the first and second record but with more confidence in song writing. Maybe being a bit more extreme – a bit more emotional extremity and openness.” Using the skills the band have learned individually playing with artists including Wesley Gonzalez and Meilyr Jones they have achieved everything they set out to and probably more creating an album with a sound that isn’t set in a time giving it the opportunity to live for years as fresh as its 2019 release.
“[Younghusband’s Swimmers] isn’t set in a time giving it the opportunity to live for years as fresh as its 2019 release.”
Swimmers opens with the first single to come from the album Translation, its single guitar line and bass indicating the relaxed pace of the album. Along with a percussive shaker its opening instrumentation personifies the sound of an album that could only be recorded in an old barn in Greenwich owned by an 84-year-old artist and his clairvoyant wife. Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters commented that when making his bands documentary Sonic Highways that his years as a song writer has taught him that where and how a record was made affected it’s sound as much as the musicians. Younghusband’s Swimmers is no different, its’ history and recording location is as much an integral part of the album as the notes Younghusband play themselves.
So far Younghusband have released Translation and Modern Lie as the two singles from the album which appear as track 1 and track 3. Track 2 What’s Wrong? Also appears to have ‘single’ quality to it as well with its catchy chorus. Opening with the 3 ‘radio friendly’ tracks feels a little awkward, all three are worthy additions to the album but gives the album an element of divide with the rest of the album following a more dream-pop theme.
“Grinding teeth is a perfect example of how Younghusband’s songs suit the casual listener or securitizing muso.”
After what feels like a middle album lull Swimmers crawls our interest back combining indie pop melodies with a haunting organ line on Grinding Teeth. Grinding teeth is a perfect example of how Younghusband’s songs suit the casual listener or securitizing muso; the album uses countless bits of carefully chosen instrumentation that a less accomplished band wouldn’t have had the understanding to know how much these subtleties add to the tracks. Again, we feel the wise barn speaking to us.
“Younghusband show their ability to exaggerate their work with overdubs but also strip it back to the bare bones as executed with exactitude [on Paradise In The Rain]”
Paradise In The Rain is a number who’s lead guitar has qualities to mimic early The Strokes work. Musically this is one of the simpler tracks, holding itself as crafted piece of pop magic. Not all tracks have to be overcomplicated, Younghusband show their ability to exaggerate their work with overdubs but also strip it back to the bare bones as executed with exactitude here.
In penultimate track Sucker Younghusband sing that they are a “sucker for your love” which seems a premonition for our feelings about this album; quite simply we can’t get enough! The term ‘indie’ was originally coined in the 1970s to describe albums released on independent labels and the sound was often low-fi guitar driven music but these days the sound termed as ‘indie’ is so wide scoping no one really knows that it means; in reality it often means a major label released a radio friendly guitar album. Swimmers brings us back to indie’s roots and brings the mature listener back to the days when cassettes were swapped, and you never really knew how you were going to find your new favourite band.
“[Swimmers is an] album that the listener will enjoy thoroughly but its complexities are hidden on casual listen which is a beautiful skill.”
Swimmers strengths are also its downfalls, leading the listener in a dreamy haze throughout both makes the album memorable but also easy to dismiss. In many ways there’s nothing to dislike about the album but it’s not an album drum up motivation in its listener, that said it’s the perfect Sunday housecleaning album; an album that the listener will enjoy thoroughly but its complexities are hidden on casual listen which is a beautiful skill.