Album: People Are Soft
Artist: The Swimmers
Label: MAD Dragon Records
Initially seen as a record small in stature and large on ambition, The Swimmers' sophomore effort, People Are Soft, conjures up enough familiarity to earn itself these well-deserved accolades. Sporting a pleasant outlook, and an upbeat and optimistic sense of itself, the record overachieves its humble beginnings and expectations, and rose above the pack in a year top-heavy with quality indie pop. For an album recorded and produced by the band themselves in a basement home studio, it possesses a fantastic amount of clarity-- an achievement not to be overlooked.
Chock-full of all of the cliches we've seemingly written off in serious music, People Are Soft employs clapping, group choruses, bright keyboards and peppy staccato backgrounds. Set against the aforementioned steady optimism, and its hook-laden choruses, you're left with a very basic, yet very in-depth exploration of indie pop's roots. The Swimmers lean heavily on some obvious influences like The Shins and Wolf Parade, yes, but merged with their own jovial approach, it works to perfection. For those who grew tired of the catchy, yet trance-like pop choruses which littered 2009, perhaps this more intelligent alternative will do you well. As subdued as The Swimmers manage to be here, it doesn't cloud the emotions or production value that made People Are Soft a tutorial in expert indie pop execution.
Best Track: "To the Bells"
[Previously on Animal Noises: Best Albums of 2009: #14, Wilco's Wilco (The Album)]