Jack Gordon (drums), Jeremy Grisbee (keys), Matt Graham (vocals) and Ned Gayle (bass) are Swimwear Department. The band is a refreshingly frivolous and fun brand of garage/surf rock. On their recent release Turn Over! Go Under! The band keeps the subject limited to swimming pools and shopping malls. I’m not sure what brought upon these two rather disparate topics but I love it. What I love even more are the melodies, production and performances.
The band gets the party going with “Cool Mall Stroll.” Oh lordy, that bass sound is just so on point. It’s this fat distortion that drives the energy. The vocals are very dynamic yet loose. There is exuberant energy that flows through the vocals and is elevated through the instrumentation.
I was hoping the rest of the EP would be this good and it was. “Submarine” is a near perfect meld of garage and surf. The expressive vocals bring to mind the sense of fun you might experience while listening to The Stooges. “Houston Needs a Swimming Hole” is more or less full-on surf.
Just when I thought the band can’t get any more awesome they bust out “Holding On.” The song is smooth as velvet and Graham just crushes it. Graham is a versatile vocalist and really brought the goods on this track. The band Spoon came to mind on this song.
The energy gets brought back up with “Get Dirty,” “Seventeen Swimsuits” and satisfying epic closer entitled “The Limited, The Gap.”
This was such a great listen that felt so free of pretense and indulgent “artsy” attempts to wrap the listener in a cerebral mind-state. The music is immediate and what you hear feels authentic in such a way that it’s borderline cathartic.
It’s proof that that you can take subject matter that on the surface level may seem a bit silly and provide emotionally satisfying and even profound experiences. I wonder what the band will sing about next? Camping grounds and supermarkets could work.
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