2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Shimmering, Ethereal, Epic and above all, Heartfelt,
This review is from: No Flags Will Fly (Physical CD album) (Audio CD)
Despite over 10 years having passed since their debut, Post-rock giants Mogwai cast a long shadow over the music scene of Glasgow. This over-arching influence informs but doesn't overwhelm "No Flags Will Fly" thankfully. The hallmark of the genre is largely present and correct, in the form of epic shifts in dynamic - from delicate intros to climactic flourishes, complete with crushing waves of shimmering, transcendent echo-laden guitar. However, Olympic Swimmers complement that sensibility for mood and volume with elements from more conventional song-writing that brings it firmly into indie-pop territory (or, if you will, "Post"-Post-Rock); nods at traditional structure, changes in tempo and (above all) distinct, prominent vocals throughout.
Indeed it's the mezzo-alto of singer Susie Smillie, sung with a gentle Scots brogue, that really sets the band apart from their peers. At times wounded and bruised, her vocals become strident and keening at key points; a perfect match for the personal, passionate lyrics, which subtly evoke Caledonian themes and imagery, without triggering the usual "tartan cringe" (not an easy path to tread!). This isn't to say that the group aren't a tight, disciplined, imaginative and cohesive unit - it really feels like a true "band" rather than the typical "four blokes + frontwoman" combo of yesteryear.
Production-wise, "Flags" is professional without being "slick"; the album feels nicely balanced with a good range of natural sounding instrumentation and reverb but still manages to retain an expansive, modern outlook at all times. Key tracks to sample are: "Father Said", "Apples & Pears" and live set-closer "Running Down the Curtain".
All in all, a highly accomplished début which really ought to have more prominence (locally and nationally) than it has so far. Come on Scots music press - get your act together and promote good quality locally-produced talent!