Real Swell is the lo-fi bedroom pop project of London’s Kris Lavin. everything else is terrible! is the project’s new album, comprising of 13 tracks all named according to the rigid pattern of ‘a something something‘. If you’re unfamiliar with Real Swell, let’s get you up to speed. Lavin takes wistful bedroom pop formulae and runs it through a sleepy, foggy filter. He’s also not afraid to experiment (as attested on the first Real Swell release, the 30-track strong suburban fortress), producing a sound that flickers between guises.
Take for example the reverberating synth pop of opener ‘a glockenspiel for the downtrodden’, followed by the lean and wiry ‘a bedroom wall’, its almost indecipherably mumbled vocals adding to the dreamy undertones.
‘a sleeping dog’ is similarly cryptic, the lyrics dark shapes below the musical surface, while ‘a bedroom wall’ sees the tempo increase to sound like Abe Vigoda stripped to the most basic of instruments and fronted by Alec Ounsworth. ‘a long time (to be alive)’ plays like a strange chant and ‘a pretender’ a melancholic echo, before ‘a friend for life’ bubbles up from the depths, reverberating vocals joining in chorus. ‘a brief respite while dreaming’, is just that, a spare and plaintive guitar interlude, while ‘a wakening’ has gentle falsetto vocals and strange fluttering panpipes and electronic vocal samples, the meaning of which is left unclear.
“When I grow up i’m going to be a scientist”
‘a motorway’ is another mellow and slightly morose guitar track, before the chilled out electronic pop of ‘a way of saying thanks’, and ‘a good pet’, which sounds like its playing in your next-door neighbour’s garage or at the bottom of a swimming pool on full volume. Here Lavin’s vocals are delivered in strained yelps, urgent but afraid or unable to fully show it, emotions left to sit in the closer ‘a burnt tree’, one final piece of meditative lo-fi electronica.
everything else is terrible! is the musical equivalent of waking from your favourite dream, a sort of grand, wistful melancholy that descends as your brain figures out how reality compares to the fantasy world is had created and desperately tries to cling on to the fading wisps. The feeling is too personal to talk about, too fleeting to properly mourn, yet overwhelmingly familiar, something you’ve experienced since birth and probably always will.
You can get everything else is terrible! now on a name your price via the Real Swell Bandcamp page.