London quintet Swimming Tapes has been quite a prolific group delivering no less than nine singles and two EPS since they first surfaced in 2016. “Morningside” however marks first full length album they’ve released and very much continues the stylistic trajectory their fans have come to expect.
The album kicks off with the tranquil lead single “Passing Ships”. Instruments join in one by one, interlocking melodies before settling into its breezy verse. The vocals have an appropriate weariness to them as Swimming Tapes sing about missed opportunities and the people that drift in and out of our lives. It’s followed by the more brilliant and buoyant “It Gets Old”. There’s an understated charm and nostalgia about this song thats reminiscent of twee and indie pop classics and like so many of those songs it’s about dysfunctional relationships, but it’s sunny disposition makes it feel like one of the happier songs in this set. Subtle harmonies prop up its yearning refrain and jangling guitars bounce riffs off each other over a driving beat.
There’s a noticeable chemistry to Swimming Tapes‘ playing that makes crafting a good pop song seem to come easy for them. “See It Out” is a subdued affair that has an intimate feel to it helped by some studio banter in the beginning giving the impression you’re in the room with them. Lead by its compelling bass and wistful vocals, it’s seems destined to soundtrack many lazy summer days. The shimmering chords of “Mirador” offer one of the liveliest moments on “Morningside” from its singalong chorus to its sheepish guitar solo. When they’re aren’t writing guitar pop singles Swimming Tapes experiment with unconventional arrangements and rhythms on the lackadaisical “Say It Isn’t So” whose harmonies would make Brian Wilson smile. The arpeggiated rush of “Keep Her Close” is another pleasant highlight written about a former love who had gotten married. Its three and half minutes of glittering guitars and sighing vocals that lament the young love that got away. “In the New Year” brings the album to a close with a gentle strummed acoustic guitar pining for the optimism of a new year under more sprightly guitar flourishes. The album’s sepia toned nostalgia combined with its overall relaxed vibe seems perfectly suited to the summer months ahead. Swimming Tapes’ early singles set the bar high for any follow up, but “Morningside” more than lives up to the hype of its predecessors and delivers one of the finest debut albums of the year.
Highlights: “Passing Ships”, “It Gets Old”, “Mirador”, “Keep Her Close”
For Fans Of: Real Estate, Diiv, Foliage