Thursday, January 12, 2012


On last year’s two (free download) EPs, Free Swim tackled a man who decides to have two extra hands grafted on to this chest and the Himalayan adventures of a Giant Panda named Yolanda. Two more EPs are promised this year and today the first of those (not ‘officially’ released until “20 February 2012”?) is up for download on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Although Free Swim are now a four-piece live band (visual evidence here) the “Dennis” EP was written, recorded and produced solely by Free Swim mastermind Paul Coltofeanu. And like the previous EPs it has a concept “A budding bromance is inadvertently derailed by an undeniably lovely girl called Sophie Buttercup”. If the concept doesn’t sound too promising (a PG Wodehouse short story? A rejected Divine Comedy B-side?), rest assured the delivery is.

Opener ‘Oh Dennis’ tells of the budding friendship-cum-infatuation with Dennis (“I met you one day in the park / playing tennis..”), all sweetness and yearning admiration over a chunky guitar riff and stylophone squiggles, like The Monochrome Set meets Momus. The relationship is cemented in the stomping ‘Croydon Fernandes’, in which The Monkees go laddish new wave and take on beat poetry. References to The Human Centipede, Geoff Capes, Ken Bates, air cello and then complaining about the shell in a Morrison’s Scotch egg come thick and fast and I have to confess to not being entirely sure what is going on in the rough-and-tumble of this song but at its climax our hero is informed - by text - that Dennis has met and fallen in love with Sophie (“I dropped my phone / left all alone”).

The nimble, even jazzy ‘The Smell of Pregnancy’, all dainty brushed drum tip-toe alternating with more churning guitar riffs, comes complete with the return of Quirrence the narrator and an extended spacey slap bass outro as the expulsion of our leading man is made complete. It also features references to Vienetta and National Trust properties. An air of soft-voiced resignation hangs over the mournful piano-framed ‘Cycling in the Ardeche’, set several years later, until Dennis gets back in touch (“we hugged like men”). And Dennis has a request for our would-be romantic.... Will it be a happy ending? I won’t spoil it – you know what you have to do to find out for yourself.

Not as immediately addictive or as off-the-scale surreal as “Yolanda The Panda”, this EP is still a nonconformist treat, delightfully swimming against the tide of current trends and mixing a fine English whimsy with muscular DIY pop. Highly recommended.

Free Swim - Oh Dennis by Free Swim

Free Swim - Croydon Fernandes by Free Swim

Free Swim Dennis [FREE]

1 comment:

Dean said...

This is my favourite record since Luke Haines' wrestling whimsy of last year.

The Smell of Pregnancy is two tracks in one, the first two and a half minutes and the second are two totally different pieces of music, really. Both bloody brilliant.