The New Pale Swimmers
The New Pale Swimmers

by Jason Hoffman Mark is Pale
While the blues and heavy rock tend to dominate the local bar scene, and thus the local albums that come into whatzup to review, every now and then one slips through that thumbs its nose at this convention. The lo-fi, hi-sparkle self-titled album by The New Pale Swimmers is just such an album. Written, performed, recorded and engineered by the very same Mark Hutchins who was responsible for the tasty power pop gem Vandolah, New Pale Swimmers crams 15 breezy songs into just 35 minutes, pummeling you with a barrage of catchy melodies. This melodic hit and run mirrors the three weeks that it took to write and record the album, but the clean, effective production and well-rounded songwriting do not betray their hurried conception.

There are a number of very strong songs on this outing, but perhaps the best of the best is the astounding “Give It A Go,” where fuzzy staccato guitars and a pounding beat hammer a Radiohead- meets-White Album Beatles melody into your head with such enigmatic lyrics as “Take the fake away in the front of the back row.” Just try to not smile or tap your foot - I triple-dog dare you! The infectious “King of the Lepers” introduces a chunky yet jangly guitar riff alongside distorted vocals that evoke hints of Mott the Hoople, while Wilco meets Pavement in the mellow melancholy “It Was a Blowout,” the harmony-laden tale of a boy who lived in a real bubble (“One Halloween he dressed up / Like a fish in a fishbowl”). “A National Bastard” takes a cue from Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” turning in an introspective song of clean guitars and somber vocals. Other songs, such as the tantalizing “Bubblegum Stumblebum,” mix fuzz guitar and gritty vocals into a droning dirge that abruptly cleans up its image with startling results. Many songs, such as the tuneful “He Is Wicked in His Clothes” and “Unlisted Monarchs,” lean toward the shoe-gazer style, while others, most notably the sparse “Finger Patriot,” leverage folk music. A special award should go to “Consonant Pulled Taut” for being able to effectively incorporate those weird guitar effects on your pedal that sound cool but never seem to fit into any song - Hutchins makes them work.

There is an undeniable appeal in the songs by The New Pale Swimmers. Hutchins’ friendly vocals, uncluttered arrangements and whimsical lyrics draw you in and the sticky melodies make sure you come back time and time again. Fans of Pavement, Wilco, Sparklehorse or Radiohead would do well to contact hutchbiz@hotmail.com and add this album to their collection.

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