Things have changed quite a bit since Swim Deep last put out an album. In the four years it’s been since the release of ‘Mothers’, Birmingham’s favourite sons have gone through it all - whether it’s touring all over the globe or taking a much-needed break to recharge and work out what they do next, it’s felt like a vital transitional period. The glorious sun-kissed hoops that first introduced them to the world on their debut album had morphed into expansive and deep-diving experimentation - almost two polar opposites of what Swim Deep represented. It’s what makes ‘Emerald Classics’ such an important record - an answer to that question of who they are as a band and the stages they want to take over next. That answer, like the album, is one peppered with renewed hunger that masterfully mixes the cocktail they’ve been promising from the very beginning.
A record grounded in both the optimism/dreaming and anxiety that comes with finding yourself in your mid-20s and still feeling lost, it finds Swim Deep harnessing what they do best. The infectious synth-heights of ‘Sail Away, Say Goodbye’ was born purely to be screamed back ten-fold, ‘World I Share’ could easily be a long-lost New Order anthem found in the backrooms of The Hacienda and ‘0121 Desire’ practically thumps its way into spinning shapes. Every twist and turn is one that feels focused, spanning across an album that takes that fevered sharpness of their debut album and morphs it with the beefed-up wrap of ‘Mothers’. Who else could get away with dropping a doe-eyed romance ode in ‘Top Of The Pops’ at one moment, a fizzing drum’n’bass soundtrack in ‘Happy As Larrie’ next and then veering to a joyous Beatles pub-singalong on ‘Never Stop Pinching Yourself’. Yet that sparkle and shine rings true, even when tackling the difficult moments - an emotional stand to keep going with the good times destined to arrive on the horizon.
‘Emerald Classics’ finds Swim Deep embracing the journey that took them to this point - and by doing so, produces their most direct and essential record to date. Dancing with tears in your eyes has never sounded so good.