Swim Deep – There’s A Big Star Outside

A fine return from the much-loved band...

When Swim Deep speak of “unfinished business” in the press notes to this, their fourth studio LP, they’re perhaps more than a little justified. ‘There’s A Big Star Outside’ is their first album in five years, and it comes a little over a decade since their Top 20 debut. The fanbase is there, for sure – it’s just that new material has been thin on the ground. Crafted alongside Bill Ryder-Jones – somewhere between the Wirral and Belgium, in fact – this is an album that should ably reignited that love affair, presenting a vision of Swim Deep that revels in maturity and a lingering lust for melody.

A compact song cycle, slo-mo opener ‘How Many Love Songs Have Died In Vegas?’ offers space rock with a slight baroque pop flourish, a lyric of redemption after so much turmoil. “I heard it gets better,” sings Austin Williams, the textured arrangement lifting him to the heavens.

Indeed, there’s a note of optimistic recovery that recurs throughout this fine album. ‘Very Heaven’ feels like a lost Spiritualized song given a Swim Deep twist, while the gorgeous slide guitar work on ‘These Words’ twists a classic trope in a new direction.

Refusing to hemmed in by reference points, ‘Glitter’ offers up stomping 80s synths, a moment of shoulder pad infatuated glee. ‘Don’t Make Me A Stranger’ pivots to the 90s, its gilded guitar line recalling fabled American band Big Star – indeed, there’s even a song on here by that very name.

Closing with the beautiful ‘Fire Surrounds’, this is an album of sonic richness, and no small degree of surprises. Emerging from the shadows, ‘There’s A Big Star Outside’ finds Swim Deep ready to step into the light once more – a hugely enjoyable record from a perennially underrated band.

7/10

Words: Robin Murray

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