Well, Cold Water Swimmers is back. And I, for one, am glad to hear it. My first encounter with the band was spring of last year in the form of the brilliant Everything We’ve Ever Had, followed in quick succession by a full album, Holiday At The Secret Lake. Both resonated with me musically and lyrically, a musical taste of my formative days brought up to date for my older self. Two salvos of cool, indie poise blended with alt-rock attitude and a smattering of underground pop accessibility. And then nothing. (I began to wonder if it was something I said!)
Thankfully, Were You Even There marks their return, another song worth getting excited about. This time out, the music revels in a slow, wilfully louche and wonderfully swaggersome Brit-pop attitude. It balances jangling, spiralling riffs with gruff chord strikes to create its platform, one that it underpins with simple but perfectly placed bass pulses and beats. This a reminder that the best songs are rarely the most ornate ones.
On top of this, Chris Bridgett narrates a slightly obscure but brilliantly beguiling lyrical array that resonates with wonderfully singable lines and an infectious and immediate chorus.
And then there is the slow-burning build and rising dynamic intensity, the song taking a spiralling journey from a delicate intro to a rabble-rousing finale, wrapping itself in additional tones and textures, bite and weight as it makes its way towards its final destination.
With time away from the public consciousness, any new release would need to be immediate, accessible, addictive and memorable to compensate for the lost time. It is safe to say that The Cold Water Swimmers know that and are more than capable of delivering such a tune.
I was there for Brit-pop. Much of it left me cold, weighed down with too much of its own sense of self-importance. (I was probably standing in a muddy field elsewhere, watching New Model Army or Killing Joke). But if you want to imagine what that scene sounded like in its purest form before the fashionistas and faddists, the cooler-that-thou kids, and the trust fund Camden crowd got their hands on the scene, it might have sounded like this.
In some ways, you can see Were You Even There as Brit-pop for a newer, more musically astute age, where music matters more than the movement, sound more than the scene. I’m in…who’s with me?