Posted on December 2nd, 2009 (2:35 pm) by Alex Morgan

In 1967, The Beatles gave us Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In 1971, Led Zeppelin released Led Zeppelin IV. London Calling by The Clash crashed onto the music scene in 1979. Then the 80s came and, with a few exceptions, good music came to a stuttering halt (can anyone really hate Rick Astley?). The 90s revamped this with tricklings of grunge (Nirvana), intricate rock and electronic mixings (Radiohead) and straight-up get-punched-in-the-face jams (Queens of the Stone Age). So why is it that The Swimmers decided to take the worst of the 80s when they had three other decades of music to sort through and infuse this in their second album People Are Soft?

Actually, it would seem perfectly reasonable these days with acts like The Killers and The Bravery swimming in synthy decadence; but if you pay attention you'll also notice those same bands shying away from their direct influences singeing every listenable note that they put out. No more Bruce Springsteen or Joy Division for The Killers; they're their own band now! So perhaps The Swimmers need to have a few years to figure things out. But, for now, we have to deal with tracks that sound like Jamie Mildren from Architecture in Helsinki after half a dozen shots of tequila and a few Ritalin among drum beats made to sound like the clapping of hands ("Give Me the Sun"). Not that Krista Yutzy-Burkey has an unpleasant voice, but it's used oddly here, and honestly do we really need her to sing at all? Harmonizing is one thing and it actually works wonderfully on "Nervous Wreck," easily the most likable song on People Are Soft, but, enough with the multitude of noises. Her husband, Steve Yutzy-Burkey, has a decent voice and it works well when the band focuses their sound.

At first, you may be drawn in with the light poppy drums and synths along with the distant hee-hoos in the background on "Shelter" and even more so with the sweet and catchy chiming keyboards in "A Hundred Hearts." Several times I even caught myself singing the lyrics “you've only got one heart, but a hundred people want it / If a hundred people want it they'd be putting prices on it." Krista's voice works well in the end here and delightfully so, but as the album draws on, disappointment sets in and, as mentioned before, with the exception of "Nervous Wreck," there are no real highlights.

A few tracks start out promising, such as "To the Bells, "Dress Don't Fit," but end up never gaining any sort of momentum. The crunchy guitars and chorus of "I think I'm coming out of this" on "Drug Party" are nice, but ultimately the song is aimless and has no holding power to the listener’s ears. The band also tries a nearly experimental approach with "Try to Settle In," bringing in what sounds like a church piano in the beginning that falls into a repetitive drum loop and guitar mixture along with a chorus in the background; but what's this mumbling that I hear? After nearly a minute Steve Yutzy-Burkey starts muttering nonsense for about two minutes until the track breaks down into synth beats and then the song drops out of nowhere. What the fuck just happened? I'm sorry Steve, but you aren't Lou Reed and this isn't The Velvet Underground.

Ultimately, the album had a few good tracks, but it has the terminable symptom of sitting on my hard drive and off of my playlists. Ironic, considering that Steve would, in an almost uncaring way ask to be saved from the brightness. And again, what's with bands having a multitude of singers? For the love of all that is holy, stick with one main singer! For some this undoubtedly is a "innovative" thing to do, but not when one of the people singing can't hold their own. Perhaps in the future The Swimmers will learn from this experience and pull themselves up by the bootstraps; after all, they certainly have talent, they are just not using it in a pleasant way half the time. But, for now, there's nothing to see here. Move along, folks.

Track List:
1. Shelter (3:18)
2. Hundred Hearts (3:05)
3. Drug Party (2:26)
4. What This World Is Coming To (3:44)
5. Give Me The Sun (2:41)
6. Save Me (4:05)
7. Nervous Wreck (3:40)
8. To The Bells (3:01)
9. Dresses Don't Fit (2:48)
10. Anything Together (3:51)
11. Try To Settle In (3:46)

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