Swim Lanes’ debut self-titled EP is a hazy dream-pop adventure

Swim Lanes’ debut self-titled EP is a hazy dream-pop adventure

Words by Matt Martin

Swim Lanes burst into a fully-formed, glorious existence with their debut self-titled EP.

The newest act from Ocean Grove, Swim Lanes, has sprung on the scene with a glorious self-titled four track EP, earning a spot on everyone’s ‘must listen’ list.

The DIY bedroom pop venture of multi-instrumentalist LANES, Swim Lanes is a dreamy collection of four swirling tracks and earnest songwriting spawned from years of dabbling with home recordings.

“It was a bit of a mess in terms of pulling the individual tracks and the EP together, mostly involving me sticking together fragments I’d recorded over the last few years. For example, a lot of the percussion is sampled from some older songs I recorded when I had access to a drum kit, which created some nice surprises in the end,” LANES shares.

With nods to music greats such as Stereolab, My Bloody Valentine and Ariel Pink, the EP combines spinning layers of vintage synth, guitar, harmonies, droney reverb and fuzzed out sounds, championed by honest and raw lyrics, fuelled by LANES’ own frustrations, dreams and uncertainties of being a person with a disability.

“I like songs where there’s a tension between the music and the lyrics – dreamy or melodic tunes but with blunt lyrics to counterbalance the sweetness. As a result, generally when I write, it’s me in second person having a go at myself, my anxieties etc.

“My having a disability colours that a lot,” LANES continues. “I feel like there’s a fairly rich vein of content to be mined in the social aspects of disability and that particular strain of otherness. That said, there’s no shortage of great tunes made by people with disability now and throughout the history of popular music.”

Armed with unwaveringly honest songwriting, LANES begins the EP with ‘Wasted On You’ – a four minute journey of dreamy harmonic vocals that fall in line with the smooth, mellow but wide sounding stereo of the keys. The gentle guitars sit nicely in the back and coincide with the panned synth sound effects allowing for a pleasuring listening experience from start to finish.

“’Wasted On You’ is my take on that theme [strain of otherness]. I guess I was trying to capture how I’ve continually gotten caught up on the idea that there’s some external ‘thing’ out there (clothes, music, work etc) that’ll be my gateway to a ‘normal’ (i.e. ‘good’, ‘worthy’) life, instead of just running my own race.”

Having been previously released in 2017, the second track, and arguably the Swim Lanes’ best performance, ‘Already Too Late’, is a more upbeat disco-esque pop track which consists of fuzzed out guitars and big synth sounds which complement the layered lead and backing vocal performance.

While the track already garnered community radio airplay around the country, it was the last track before LANES’ brief hiatus from music.

“Life got in the way of following it up,” he explains. “I had a few years just working and tried to put music aside really. The lyrics of ‘Already Too Late’ were a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way: feeling like I could never ‘make it’ in music and feeling almost ashamed for even wanting to write songs.

“Of course, that was a completely ridiculous, unhealthy and unsustainable way to think. I mean: what is ‘making it’ these days? And who cares? Making stuff is good for us all anyway right, so why not?

“I got back into it through Found Sound, the absolutely ripper music store in Carlton. They sell lots of old synths second-hand, and learning about their gear made me interested in the idea of making music again.”

Continuing to touch on a range of sounds from the dreamy end of the spectrum, the final two tracks have a very similar vibe to each other. ‘When I’m Alone’ is a very synth-heavy track that recalls a lot of Ariel Pink’s material.

The lyrics speak about being alone and having someone constantly on your mind all the time, whereas ‘Loop’ is the perfect closing song for the EP. It starts off with these large, stereo-sounding fuzzed out drums followed by melodic vocals and reverb-drenched synth sounds. I can imagine myself sitting outside at 3am listening to this to wind down after a big night out.

With a second release already in the works, this self-titled EP is a fantastic debut effort that’s cemented Swim Lanes as one of Victoria’s most exciting up-and-coming acts.

Give the EP a spin via Bandcamp. You can follow and stay up the with the band via Twitter.

Never miss a story. Sign up to Beat’s newsletter and you’ll be served fresh music, arts, food and culture stories three times a week.