Wednesday 29 September 2010

How To Swim - Retina (or More Fun than a Vat of Love)

On the 1st of June 2008, I went along to the first (and last??) ever Sauchiehall Crawl in Glasgow. Back then, I'd bought tickets with with the sole intention of seeing two bands, both of which the dearly-departed Planet Sound had raved about: Broken Records and The Twilight Sad. It was the other band joining them on the ABC2 bill that night that took my breath away! That band was Glasgow's orchestral indie merchants How To Swim.

Well, after their It Stings When I EP and The Littlest Orgasm mini-album (both currently available on bandcamp), they're back with debut full-length release Retina (or More Fun Than a Vat of Love) on 4th October.

With that subtitle, this album has got a lot to live up to. That's a lot of love that's been promised! Thankfully, it's a promise that How To Swim make good on. Retina is outstanding! From the somewhat sinister French horn opening of Diego Whirlwind to the fanfarical trumpet ending of It's Alright, the album is, for want of a better word, perfect. Sandwiched in between those two tracks are eight equally amazing ones, all of which I'd gladly rave about. As I'm quite a lazy blogger though, let's just take two of them.

The fantastic Diego Whirlwind <a href="">Diego Whirlwind by How To Swim</a> is the tale of a sword-swallowing, prison 'go-to' guy, set to a seamless layering of those eerie horns, tinkling keys and epic, urgent trumpets, with a minute-long, stunning acapella harmony to finish things off. The 6-and-a-half minute Ink Wilson's World of Fear is a mini-musical in itself. A gentle, piano opening gives way to yet more cracking trumpet arrangements, at times evoking images bordering on burlesque! Both songs showcase How to Swim's unmistakable quality and attention to detail.

How to sum the album up in 3 words? Meticulous musical mastery!

Gregor Barclay, a.k.a. Ink Wilson himself recently explained that Diego Whirlwind is part of an as-of-yet unfinished musical that may one day find itself performed at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Consider mine the first name on any petition to make this happen! Until then, there's the little matter of the album launch gig at Stereo this Friday, with support from Over The Wall and The Low Miffs.

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