Swimmer One - Dead Orchestras (4 stars)

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Swimmer One - Dead Orchestras

(Biphonic Records)

There’s a Manchester-based twosome called Hurts currently making a humungous splash in modern pop with their emotional blend of smart electronic epics. And while we love them, The List can’t help but smile about it. After all, we know that Swimmer One were there first, way back in 2002 in fact, and they pull it off just as impressively – only with a lot less fuss.

In case you missed it, 2007’s The Regional Variations was the perfect introduction to this Edinburgh-based band (now expanded to a trio with the addition of Laura Cameron Lewis); as they debuted a celebrated sound that saw them compared to everyone from Pulp and Belle and Sebastian to The Blue Nile and The Pet Shop Boys. But as this staggering second effort proves, it was only a taste of what they could do. Dead Orchestras kicks off with two pacey, undulating synth-driven tracks in classic Swimmer One style, but it’s when we hit ‘The Erskine Bridge’ that things get really interesting. You see, those openers are great examples of the kind of existential electro pop Andrew Eaton and Hamish Brown are now surely able to knock out in their sleep, but the latter with its heartbreaking lyrics – ‘I’m sorry for all of the pain, I’m sorry for all of the heartbreak I caused you’ – makes way for a run of songs that show the band exploring a more deeply introspective and melancholy side.

Highlights? There are too many to mention, but make sure you at least give ‘Here’s Your Train, Safe Home’, ‘You Have Fallen Way Short Of Our Expectations’ and ‘The Fakester Resurrection’ a spin; as these subtle and beautifully rendered works prove exactly why Swimmer One are one of the most captivating and unique pop acts around.

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