King Hannah: Big Swimmer (City Slang) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, July 21st, 2024  

King Hannah

Big Swimmer

City Slang

Jun 19, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

King Hannah hail from Liverpool. They, however, have more in common with American alt-folk and ’90s grunge rock than their myopic local music scene, which is populated by bands adorned in flammable knock-off sportswear, desperately trying to channel the long-departed ghosts of Lennon and McCartney while seemingly perpetually suspended in a suffocating psychedelic miasma of cloying ’60s sentimentality. King Hannah, on the other hand, craft music that celebrates, to coin a phrase, “nostalgia for an age yet to come.” While their music evokes a sense of familiarity, they never sound like jejune revivalists. Instead, they utilize any sense of nostalgia as a springboard for innovation rather than simply celebrating the past. Instead of limiting their focus to their local scene, Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle set their sights far beyond the River Mersey, aspiring to bigger dreams than endlessly playing to their mates in the same basement venues every week ad infinitum. Far better to be a seen band than a scene band, and this broader perspective has paid off, resulting in a worldview that is more expansive, interesting, and daring than many of their peers.

Their second album, Big Swimmer, is a solidification of their oeuvre, brimming with confidence as Whittle’s gritty, coruscating guitar riffs perfectly illuminate Merrick’s often opaque yet playful poetic lyrics, often delivered with a laconic drawl. The album boasts a widescreen musical style, executed with flair and panache. Highlights include the title track, featuring a guest appearance by the always wonderful Sharon Van Etten, the languid “New York, Let’s Do Nothing,” and the more upbeat “Davey Says,” a previous single described by the band as an attempt to “capture classic American ’90s imagery—evoking coming-of-age nostalgia and the romance of late warm summer nights with the future spread out before you.”

There’s a Mazzy Star, Ry Cooder meets Sonic Youth by way of Dry Cleaning kind of vibe that runs throughout the album. Touring the vast American expanses, particularly with Thurston Moore, certainly seems to have informed both the sound and content of Big Swimmer. It’s an album that plays to the duo’s strengths, with plenty to admire as they continue to evolve, crucially doing so at their own pace. Big Swimmer doesn’t feel rushed or hurried. There’s space to let the songs breathe, to let them seep into your bones, to cast their spell, making it a hugely rewarding and often soothing listen. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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