​​Album Review: There’s A Big Star Outside // Swim Deep

Photo credit: Luca Bailey


From different style choices to a new lineup, Swim Deep’s There’s A Big Star Outside is symbolic of the changes the band have gone through. While frontman Austin Williams is the only remaining founding member, the exciting lineup of members (Cavan McCarthy, James Balmont, Robbie Wood, and Thomas Fiquet) opens up a spectrum of possibilities as the band move forward. There’s A Big Star Outside is not just a reinvention of their sound. It is also a reflection of the stylistic changes in Swim Deep’s music and the new directions they could take in the future.

From the carefree sounds of their debut album Where the Heaven Are We?, to the intense rhythms of 2015 release Mothers, the album explores relaxed, euphonious sounds that previous tracks have only given a peek of, giving it an avenue to come to fruition.

The album opens with ‘How Many Love Songs Have Died in Vegas?’. With melancholic, yet dreamlike plucking reminiscent of a lullaby, the instrumentation is inviting, and more than that, comforting. While it taps into the scepticism that comes with approaching relationships, it also provides solace for listeners by articulating feelings they are acquainted with, or even accustomed to. The repeating lyric structures through the lines “It gets better / I heard it gets better in time” and “It gets louder in my head / It gets louder at night” make it more impactful.

Repetition is a recurring technique in the album. Where it can make or break a song, There’s A Big Star Outside achieves the former. ‘It’s Just Sun in Your Eyes’ is another example of this. It’s an affirmation in the form of a song, repeating “Don’t cry / It’s just sun in your eyes”. Other lyrics like “Don’t take me home / I’m not ready for that / Please take it slow / If we have to go back” indicate that it’s about a slow burn, and enjoying the process of knowing, and eventually, loving someone. Besides its fitting use of songwriting methods that contribute to its warm atmosphere, it also makes an excellent addition to the band’s repertoire of songs that reference the sun—perhaps a tribute to their past.

Swim Deep have once more shown their gift of crafting simple yet catchy melodies. ‘Robin’ erupts into an explosive intro of drums and sustained guitar notes. Thematically, it’s similar to ‘Very Heaven’, both songs being assurance towards a lover. The chorus elicits ease, with lyrics like ’I don’t need you to say I’m sorry / I don’t need you to stand out cold in the rain’.

Probably the catchiest song in the album, ‘Glitter’ allows the synthesiser to take centre stage. Beginning with an arpeggiator, it creates anticipation and breaks into a euphoric synthesiser phrase that repeats throughout the song, and is again used in an interlude. The instrumentation matches the feeling of reawakening that the lyrics speak of, particularly in the lines ‘Something is changing in the air / I’m feeling differently’.

While the general ambiance of the album is pensive, ‘Robin’ and ‘Glitter’ stand out for the tonal shifts they provide, constantly keeping listeners intrigued of what’s to come.

A personal favourite, ‘Big Star’ explores infinite prospects in life, led mainly by what seems like a sense of childlike wonder. The lines “There’s a big cloud outside shall we stand underneath it? / There’s a big star outside, do you wanna go see it?” are also telling of the excitement of possibility.

Steeped in an intense curiosity towards human relationships and chance, Swim Deep has shown their versatility and maturity in the themes they write about. Previously writing songs rooted in carefree nature, this album delves into more personal themes. Williams bares his insights on love and longing, putting them in full view.

This album is a testament to the band’s ability to dive into changes, and being true to their name, swim deep into them. There’s A Big Star Outside shows that poignancy can be liberating; just hold on to the hope that indeed, it gets better in time.

Words by Marinel Dizon

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