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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Theswimmingpools
When You Don't Know What You Want
self-released

Rating: 6.2/10 ?


May 5, 2008
East Village (not Brooklyn)-based duo (not quartet) Theswimmingpools enjoy portions of Depeche Mode/New Order-style synth-gallop on their self-released, second full-length, which piles on the keyboard triggers: this one sounds like a siren, this one a videogame, this one the soundtrack to an '80s coming-of-age film. In a year when M83 is building up some serious Breakfast Club nostalgia and the Faint is planning a danceable comeback, this must be the kind of stuff that passes for garage get-togethers with the friends at this point.

On When You Don't Know What You Want (title makes a nifty sung hook actually), these amateurs can't be accused of not having honed their sound. The stiffly gorgeous "Love Hate Confusion" pulsates like an updated Kraftwerk cut with its punchy square-waves, echoes, and a catchy "ba-ba-ba" hook behind the pretty, robotic lead voice in a Notwist kind of way. Lyrics tend towards the, uh, Bono ("You've told yourself to leave/ But you're still here/ Is it love you're feeling/ or is it fear?") but if they keep striving towards the Bernard Sumner of their dreams, with age and weariness they'll gain complexity and wit (I hope).

What this band needs right now, however, is to get colder. They haven't yet scaled their way up to VHS or Beta's icy-calculated, arena-sized reverb, nor does their pleasantly Autobahn-ish steady metronome ever boil down minimalistically enough for say, a microhouse record on Kompakt. The hooks are well-measured though, considering they're in such early stages, particularly the chorus of "You Can Be the Boy You Can Be the Girl" and the relatively rough, shuffled bassline on "Spark a Dream."

Another problem is that the pleasant stiffness can become alarming mush, as on the sluggish tick-tock pace of "Got to Fix Yourself," which sort of gleams aimlessly, or the unnecessary "Bells & Whistles" interlude, which is a bit overly impressed with the snare-echo tricks hinted at by its title. The rhythm picks up again in the album's second half, with "Speak a Dream"'s start-stops and the fast-paced key changes of "Sinking Sailor." They save the best tune they have for last, "Watching the Sea" betraying a funky Chills fetish I wouldn't mind hearing more of (or maybe I'll just go and dust off Submarine Bells). Consider Theswimmingpools one to watch, provided their craft goes up before the '80s die again (again!).

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss

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