A dreamy haze of shameless indie-pop is the latest LP to come out of ‘B-Town’; a not-so-bustling scene that has been lazily plotted on the UK music map somewhere near the centre of Birmingham over the last 12 months. The lackadaisical delivery of everything that has come out of B-Town so far implies that Where The Heaven Are We was always likely to be a little bit lazy, hallmarked with a gentle motif, and be unequivocally unashamed of how poppy it is. It’s safe to say that that’s exactly what the finished article is, but that’s certainly not to say it’s not a very solid debut effort.
If you take a look at Swim Deep, you’ll see that they look like the kind of gents that would personify these traits all too well themselves. They look like they regularly forgot their homework, never tidied their bedrooms and were rarely on time for band practices, but, all in all, they look like a nice set of lads. The title of their debut can also be looked at as a figment of the band’s utopian concept, with the dreamy textures that are definitely more heaven than hell backing this particular notion up. The slash of imagination with the regards to the title is a groundbreaking episode when compared to the not so imaginatively titled Intro, which allows a swirling, inviting arrangement to spiral for a little over a minute, before ascending into a crescendo of over-the-top synths, domineering basslines and sensationally poppy processions. Frontman Austin Williams, with his lazy, dreamy, caressing vocal, reaffirms his status as a first-impression nice guy, and you’re inclined to believe everything he tells you without questioning it in the slightest, but just don’t read too much into his lyrics – the blissful, chimerical delivery is the ramblings of a likeable man as opposed to an intellectual stream of consciousness.
The nucleus of the record is entirely poppy, and does not in any way attempt to deviate from start to finish. There are however, some limbs from it that touch upon shoegazing textures, and blissful, bright synth-driven rock, all under a vast indie parasol. Some tracks show this off much more astutely that others, making themselves stand out amongst a plethora of average tracks that merely drive home the albums overall hypothesis without strengthening its substance. Honey is without doubt the most prevalent of these aforementioned highlights. The synths are kept on a leash this time, and their brightness do exactly what they should do, brightening up a beautiful track as opposed to drowning the rest of the track out in exaggerated vexation. Again, Williams’ lyrics of ‘Don’t just dream in your sleep/It’s just lazy’ aren’t going to land him a place in any top journals, but his delivery manages to have you hanging on every word. Honey gleefully makes way for Colour Your Ways, which manages to control the cacophony of textures just as astutely as Honey does, and although the album bounces along for several tracks in its mid-section ever so nicely, there’s nowhere near enough ascension over the adolescent bewilderment, that is the recurring theme throughout Where The Heaven Are We, to make much else stand out from the crowd.
Upon completion of the record, you should realise that its title could not have been better devised. Its blueprint is immersed in the ambiguity, dubiety and puzzlement of adolescence, and the question that is the title is a fair interrogation into such mystification. The nice guys from B-Town have chosen to explore and exude this in the form of an accessible, bright record awash with gentle textures and flagrant pop, whereas someone like Kurt Cobain would choose to explore similar (but in his case, albeit darker) concepts in the form of aggressive, angst-ridden grunge equipped with disturbed, dark lyrics. The reconnaissance between the two though, is definitely in the same postcode.
Where The Heaven Are We is a solid debut, and one that is a very pleasant listen. The more pretentious music connoisseurs amongst us will be predisposed to write it off immediately due to its impudence on the pop front, and listen to it with that predisposition and a resultant closed mind. Just don’t be embarrassed to like it. The lackadaisical, abstracted motif is a very accessible one, and the limbs that protrude from the records nucleus are more than worthy of note. Williams will have you hanging off his every word, whilst the tracks that aren’t suffocated by overdoses of synths are a pleasure to listen to. It’s also worth noting that album closer She Changes the Weather is up there with Honey on the highlight front, equipped with the air of dawning comprehension to some of the adolescent bewilderment the record explores. Where The Heaven Are We is a solid start for B-Town’s latest export, and when considered the almost fainéant construction, there’s probably a lot more to come from this lot. 68% is a solid start.