Swim School dive headfirst into dream-pop delirium in their high-energy debut EP, Making Sense of It All.
Edinburgh 4-piece Swim School’s eagerly anticipated EP is well worth the wait. Frontwomen Alice Johnson delivers enthralling vocals from start to finish, and the guitar work from Alice and Lewis Bunting is impressive throughout. Making Sense of It All perfectly summarises the common feeling that runs through the EP, each track an expression of the difficulty in understanding the complexities of mental health.
The EP kicks off with Let Me Inside Your Head, a hazy grunge-pop number pairing blaring electric guitar with crisp, piercing vocals. The lyrics “Let me inside your head, so I can feel instead” – a metaphor for trying to take away a friend or loved one’s pain and suffering – encapsulates the underlying theme of mental health and wellbeing. Lead singer Alice opened up about difficulties she faced in the past year, and this is reflected poignantly in the track. The lyrics are relatable to my own experiences and I’m sure will hit a personal note with many listeners.
The opening track is followed by catchy new single Anyway, arguably the highlight of the EP. A more upbeat song than Let Me Inside Your Head, without leaning too far away from their recognisable chaotic style. Anyway draws on influences from contemporaries like Wolf Alice and Dream Wife, and the excellent production makes for a more polished sound. Bassist Matt Mitchell comes into his own with a thumping bassline, topped with impressive drums from new addition Billy McMahon.
Everything you wanted lives up to its name if you wanted a change of pace from the rest of the EP. The track slowly builds tension with emotional vocals and dreamy guitar, before unleashing some of their trademark noise. Under 3 minutes, it’s the shortest track on the EP but shows that the band are capable of hitting different levels.
Another new track, See Red, portrays a powerful rhetoric of the pain caused by an ex-partner. Seeing red being the burst of anger at the heartache and grief caused by a break up. Surging guitar riffs are the highlight of another track that ticks all the right boxes.
The EP is finished in style with the acclaimed single Outside – my favourite track. It demonstrates the potential of the band, showcasing their punchy, high-octane style with a more refined delivery. Outside offers a more accessible sound to new listeners. It’s a track I’d love to see performed live, and one which I’m sure would have plenty of heads banging.
Making Sense of It All rounds off an impressive year for Swim School, now a common namesake across festivals in the UK. Whilst their sound is not unique, the EP finds a way to sound captivating and fresh. The powerful underlying theme of mental health shows a maturity to the young band who have a promising future ahead of them.