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EP REVIEW: making sense of it all by swim school

Fast-rising Edinburgh indie-rockers swim school have just released their debut EP, making sense of it all, displaying their own unique blend of angst-fuelled grunge and dreamy alt-pop.

swim school by Rory Barnes

Since blessing us with their first single in over a year, the mighty guitar-driven beast that is let me inside your head, a few months back, we've been keeping a keen eye on swim school, eagerly lapping up each of their singles leading up to their debut EP.

The Scottish quartet - comprising of Alice Johnson (vocals & guitar), Billy McMahon (drums), Lewis Bunting (guitar), and Matt Mitchell (bass) - have gathered musical influences from the likes of The Cure, Wolf Alice, and Foals. The new EP sees swim school use these influences to curate a soundscape that represents themselves - a candescent concoction of distortion-laden grunge and infectious guitar music that places them within the ranks of the indie elite.

With the EP title making sense of it all summarising the lyrical background of the songs, Alice explains: "Each track on the EP is based on an event that I’ve experienced in the last year and the effect it had on my own mental state and also the mental state of everyone who was involved."

let me inside your head began the new era of swim school, so it fittingly opens the debut EP. If you haven't heard this track yet, you've been missing out on a bewitching beauty that rises in tension, exploding into a massive chorus of heavy drums, thrashing riffs, and haunting vocals. We've been spinning this one on repeat since March, and it still feels so fucking fresh.

Candidly exploring mental health across the EP, hazy indie-pop banger anyway dives into Alice's insecurities about being open about her struggles. She elaborates, "The chaos of imagery in the first 4 lines of the chorus that is then followed up by the lyrics 'you never notice it anyway' expresses that even though they are trying to explain what they are going through; they feel like the person listening doesn’t care nor notices. As mental illness is an invisible illness, it is easy to feel that others don’t care about your mental state when the case may be, they haven’t even noticed."

swim school by Rory Barnes

What the EP does so naturally is open up a conversation about mental health to the soundtrack of indie-rock bliss. Softer track everything you wanted is beautifully raw and delicate, and could easily be mistaken for a song off Wolf Alice's impressive catalogue by a casual fan. In contrast, the fiery see red is an angsty, exhilarating banger that addresses the trauma left from a toxic person - fizzing with tangible anger, lashing drums, and angled guitar hooks, it's immediately a favourite of ours. Definitely one for the 'fuck you' playlist.

Final track outside is about "the challenge of finding the strength to cut toxic people out of your life and putting yourself, your happiness and your mental state first," according to Alice. With a guitar riff destined to get the indie kids bouncing at festivals, outside closes the EP with an optimistic outlook as Alice declares in the final line, "I'm doing better without you."

Fusing guitar-driven hooks, emotional transparency, and atmospheric synth-rock, swim school have struck gold with their transcendent EP as making sense of it all navigates mental health, trauma, and growth to a vibrant, retro-tinged indie-rock soundtrack.

As fans of swim school since their beginning back in 2019, it's amazing to have seen them carve a place for themselves in the indie scene and confidently align themselves with some of the UK's finest rock talent. Keep an eye on swim school, they've got what it takes to be your future festival headliners. You can thank us for the hot tip later!

Catch swim school live at the following dates:

21st August - King Tuts, Glasgow

26th August - The Bodega, Nottingham

30th August - All Points East, London

16th September - Hidden Door Festival, Edinburgh

9th October - Twisterella, Middlesborough

Stream making sense of it all on Spotify and Apple Music

Review by Chloe Robbins

Photography by Rory Barnes

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