Swim Team – Dream-Gaze Debut EP


I don’t know all that much about Swim Team, the Austin band whose three song, self-titled EP has been making waves around Austin over the last month. They’re young. They sound old. Some (but maybe not all) of them were formerly in the Dream-Gaze (Shoe-Dream?) outfit, Kosovo. If their new EP is a glimpse of what’s to come, they’re worth keeping an eye on.

And a glimpse is really all it can be. These are sketches of dreams put to music – all melody and texture without much substance. That’s kind of the double edged sword of dream pop, generally, and it absolutely applies here. That ephemeral quality is both what draws you in and what leaves you ultimately unfulfilled. There are multiple bits and pieces in each of its three songs that impress, but none seem to reach for anything more. Right when you expect one to make the move into anthem territory, they wind down instead of surging forward.

This is a band fully capable of writing melodies and instilling a sense of atmosphere, and unlike so many new acts, Swim Team has a finely tuned sense of space– of knowing when not to play. With that said, though, they’re not yet a band capable of stringing those impressive pieces together in interesting, satisfying ways. The first verse of ‘Buried Treasure,’ for instance, is delightful (even if it bites New Order’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ shamelessly), but from there the song just seems to lose steam. The chorus is a downswing in energy right when you’re hoping for the song to take off.

They’re also a band that wears its influences proudly on its sleeve, and I can dig that too. New Order IS great (as are The Smiths, hi Johnny Marr guitar on ‘Swoon’!), but what makes New Order great is the layering of their catchy-as-hell riffs, the gradual build-up of tension, and the ultimate release of that tension into an anthemic catharsis. That shit takes practice, though, and there’s plenty here to hint that Swim Team may make a jump to the next level sometime soon.

For now, Swim Team will have to settle for being a talented, tasteful, and occasionally thrilling band that hasn’t quite figured out how to make a song uniquely their own. There are definitely much worse places to be.

– Matthew Hall