Swimming are one of those all too rare bands that have a dual manifesto of unbridled ambition and pure pop spirit, one who effortlessly create a veritable gumbo of styles and ideas without losing sight of the importance of hooks and melodies or smothering themselves in a cloud of pretension. The Nottingham quintet have spent the last couple of years honing their sound through playing with the most eclectic range of bands possible, from support slots under Killing Joke and Carl Barat through to a recent tour with sleepy Texan trio Love Inks.
Something which has paid off, as 'Ecstatics International', their second album is a remarkably accomplished and confident release. On first listens it may bring to mind 2008's Late Of The Pier, Nottingham's only band that have come close to 'making it' in the last five years despite not even being from Nottingham, but thankfully this early comparison only comes from the albums' bright and bubbling production. Dip into it and it sounds much closer to the synth-laden dream-pop of Mew, albeit scored for eighties sci-fi blockbusters rather than pastel-coloured dreams.
The album's title track and recent single 'Neutron Wireless Crystal' burst with whirlwinds of electronics and falsetto, refusing to settle with a mixture of hyperactivity and infant wonder, bringing to mind the modern take on prog-rock of Pure Reason Revolution, which is indeed a good thing incase you've been told differently. The rest of the album is just as sparkling, and whilst the tempo is often dropped the quality rarely is. 'Kid Global' manages to sound fresh despite finding itself close to the near-rave of Yeasayer and Ruby Suns' most recent albums, and the follow-up 'I Do (Come True) marries shoegaze guitars to shimmering electronics ala The Depreciation Guild. On 'Sun In The Island' it almost starts to approach the theatrical pomp of Muse, but this is a mere side-product of a band trying to bring out the absolute most of their myriad talents.
So perhaps Swimming's main strength is their ability to turn all this, and plenty more besides, into something coherent rather than something with a structure approaching a compilation album. The scope of 'Ecstatics International' is something to applauded, but more importantly so is the content.