Beautiful Swimmers finally drop their long-awaited debut album. Their name suggests achingly inoffensive nu-disco fashioned for summer terraces and lazy days by the pool (similar perhaps to Poolside’s Balearic indie-house album Pacific Standard Time). As appealing as that sounds, Beautiful Swimmers go the other way and offer up an intriguing twist on typically innocuous poolside beats. Instead of sickly sunshine melodies, we have a decidedly off-kilter take on tropical house.
Beautiful Swimmers is made up of Future Times boss Andrew Field-Pickering and his pal Ari Goldman. Field-Pickering is best known for his Maxmillian Dunbar pseudonym, whose hypnotic style of house shines through on Son. Here his knack for rubbing rugged beats against seemingly shiny textures invokes a torn sort of shimmering house music.
The synths and samples are gleefully retro and at times aggressively flung at the listener – but, as always, tastefully executed. Opener ‘No!’, for instance, starts with a heavy, crashing thud of bass and rickety percussion, before abruptly coming to an end at the 2.30 mark. It’s reminiscent of their best-known production ‘Big Coast’ – the album’s closer – which revolves around a hefty pulse of bass and a euphoric synth so bombastic it borders on anthemic.
One of the charms of Beautiful Swimmers is their unpredictability and an ‘anything-goes’ approach. ‘Son’ is a collision of wonderfully madcap ideas; and it’s the bawdier cuts that really impress. ‘Spezi’, one of the album’s greatest triumphs, is a bonkers slo-mo number full of jagged edges, 8-bit electronics and some fantastically quirky drum programming. A particularly surreal entry is instrumental hip-hopper ‘Joyride’, where a scratchy electric-guitar solo shares center stage with some 808 snares.
2009’s classic ‘Swimmers Groove’ also makes an appearance and frankly is still one of the better tracks (but the good news is most of the tunes here are previously unheard, despite Beautiful Swimmers’ usually sparse output).
The more orthodox productions are equally as arresting: ‘Running Over’ starts off strangely straight-laced, a typically groove-laden tropical beat, marimbas and all, that could be played at any summer party (at least until the eccentric vocal enters and pulls it into a more jarring direction). ‘Easy On The Eyes’, too, is strangely traditional and soothing in its ambiance.
‘Cool Disco Dan’, another highpoint, has an ineffable, carefree swagger thanks to an organic drum groove that sounds straight out of the 80s. And the same can be said for the rest of the album: although pitched around the 108 BPM tempos, it’s perfectly squared at the dancefloor, equipped with an abundance of brittle percussion and chipper synth melodies.
Future Times | July | Format: vinyl, digital
03. Swimmers Groove
04. Running Over
05. Easy On The Eyes
06. New Balance
07. Cool “Disco” Dan
09. Dream Track
11. Big Coast