The Swim call their second album an EP, but at eight songs and 36 minutes it doesn't fit too well within that boundary. Nor does it have the sense of being a minor or transitory work as the EP tag might suggest. Random Walk is a fully realized indie rock album, alternately somber and catchy, full of bombast and edgier guitars than the band brought to the debut LP We're Green. On the whole Random Walk is a more powerful album, with a new drummer and guitars that are both more sophisticated and often times more energetic.
The tone-setting lead track, "Heavy Ringer," is instantly captivating, with the band's trademark intricate guitar interplay and catchy, soaring harmony vocals.
"Unravel" follows with a smoother groove, accented by trumpet and organ flourishes before riding out in a fuzzy guitar, while "Reckless" is reminiscent of the Pixies, with a bouncy, thick bass line and surges of distorted guitar melodies and crashing cymbals. The Swim next turn toward an almost straightforward punk sound on "Stan The Man," a lightning fast song that rises and drops in fewer than 90 seconds.
The album closes with its two strongest tracks, the anthematic "Margaret With Comets" and
the eight-minute triumph "Piles on the Floor," which begins as a wistful slow-build before dissolving into a guitar solo that feels both ruminative and exultant.
Even after just a few listens, it's clear that Random Walk is a great companion for two of my favorite albums so far in 2008 - Real Emotional Trash from Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks and Delayer from the Heavenly States - guitars up front and center, with a lot of versatility. There's crunch and chime and distortion and melodic breaks and long, mesmerizing leads.
The Swim - Margaret With Comets (from Random Walk)
The Swim - Lazy Day (exclusive Catfish Vegas download)
CONTEST: We have two prizes to give away - a copy of The Swim's new EP Random Walk and two free passes to the CD release show Friday at Plush.
Entering is simple: just email firstname.lastname@example.org with either "Swim CD" or "Swim show" in the subject line. You can enter both, just do it in two different emails. Winners will be chosen at random Thursday.