Swansea, Flaws (Self Group)
[DANCEFLOOR MUMBLECORE] Indie-rock's fixation on the awkward and mundane is nothing new. But the quality of art focused on normal-people shit has quietly gotten bigger and better over the past decade. The normcore disco fantasy world of LCD Soundsystem is an obvious signpost. And right from "Red Mittens," the first track on Flaws, you can feel Swansea's joyful ambition to add groove to the daily grind.
Frontloading the record with a song driven by a spry dance-rock beat and sing-talked vocals about high school and inebriated ambitions to ditch a party and drive to Idaho is a cheeky move. But Flaws quickly rebuilds from an obvious single into something much more dynamic. At the core of Flaws' strongest arrangements is the voice of Rebecca Sanborn, which stretches and soars over "Just Like It Used to Be," a tense track that feels like Feist on top of Spoon. Booties are certain to shake when "Samurai" and "No Power" hit their respective strides, but the subdued warmth of "This Time" and "Brighter" prove to be the strongest manifestations of Swansea's abilities after repeat listens.
If we've learned anything from the types of movies with off-the-cuff dialog that overlap with Sanborn's lyrical tics, it's that those seemingly small and forgettable moments often turn out to be the most profound in the end. Filmmakers often turn to songwriters like her to provide the backbeat when the heavyweights are out of reach, and it's only logical to imagine a mumblecore film that corresponds perfectly with the tone and subject matter of Flaws. If Joe Swanberg or Noah Baumbach ever read this, it would behoove them to slide Swansea to the top of their music director's contact list.
SEE IT: Swansea plays the Liquor Store, 3341 SE Belmont St., with Echo Echo Echo, on Thursday, Dec. 14. 9 pm. Contact venue for ticket prices. 21+.