Swim School: making sense of it all (Self-Released) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Swim School

making sense of it all


Aug 20, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Alice Johnson of Swim School has described the recent COVID restrictions and subsequent lockdowns as an opportunity for the band to develop their sound (you can read our interview with the band here). Their debut EP, making sense of it all, showcases just how well spent that time has been. The Edinburgh quartet—who consist of Johnson (vocals and guitar), alongside Billy McMahon (drums), Lewis Bunting (guitar), and Matt Mitchell (bass)—have certainly beefed up their pre-pandemic melodic jangle pop, embracing a heavier, much more substantial sound whilst keeping their elegant pop hooks intact. By doing so Swim School now sound very much like the real deal and making sense of it all is a huge statement of intent.

The EP opens with the towering “Let Me Inside Your Head,” which was self-released back in March 2021 and acted as the perfect introduction to the bands new widescreen sound. It’s a menacing, swaggering, shoegaze juggernaut and is an object lesson in how to craft thundering majestic pop music whilst perfectly hitting the sweet spot between melody and noise.

“Anyway” is perhaps the EP’s poppiest moment, a song infused with soaring emotion and bittersweet beauty. Johnson has said that each track on EP represents an aspect of an experience that had a negative impact on her mental health. And that sense of making sense of your own feelings plus other people’s subsequent reaction when you open up permeates the EP. The slow-burning “Everything You Wanted” drips with lachrymose beauty and regret, whilst “See Red,” as the title might suggest, is full of driving urgent anger. But there’s a real sense of emancipation, of freeing yourself from other people’s toxic behaviors, and recognizing them for what they are whilst celebrating your own self-worth and strength. The EP closes with “Outside” which is another towering anthem that combines a swirling storm of distorted guitars with an emphatically hooky chorus. It’s all beautifully realized by Johnson’s mellifluous vocals, which combines insouciance and melody perfectly.

Making sense of it all clearly demonstrates the huge potential Swim School have whilst highlighting how Johnson can distill personal adversity into something positive, uplifting, empowering, and something that’s actually rather beautiful. (www.facebook.com/weareswimschool)

Author rating: 8/10

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