Caught in a Summer Swell, the first full-length from the band in Heaven, isn’t lamenting being trapped in an endless summer; it is wholly accepting it. Each repetitive, glowing progression is another step deeper into a sun-soaked, psychedelic landscape. These summer anthems of Caught in a Summer Swell are decorated with fun synths glossed with dreamy effects and sweet harmonies on guitar and vocals alike.
The album opener, “Dandelion Wine,” is a jovial first step into The Band in Heaven’s summer swell. It’s catchy, and each soaring riff builds into the next in the shoegaziest of fashions. The two singers plead that “the summer sun will set, won’t stay too long,” and as the song dies, the guitarist holds onto the main riff, as if to never let go of that setting sun.
The soft hum of an accordion sets the pace for one of the calmer tunes on this album, “Tunnel Into Your Dreams.” Though delayed guitars again take their important place, this track stands out among the rest with a higher level of maturity. Violins vibrate along with the melody, and even when the beat picks up, the song remains peaceful. “Tunnel Into Your Dreams” is the most original track on Caught in a Summer Swell.
The band in Heaven has a sound weaved out of the classic sounds of the last three decades.
On “Fairweather Friends,” the clean guitar and vibrato vocals elicit an R.E.M. vibe, and as the chorus bursts with joy from the morose verse, one can see the huge influence of bands like My Bloody Valentine and Modest Mouse.
On the track “Does it Show,” classic reverbed-out guitars and shimmering ’80s sound effects mingle with a distorted guitar and phased-out noises. “Does It Show” is exemplary of the band in Heaven’s sound, and its over-attachment to this sound. If the band asking, “Does it show?” then the answer is yes: this patchwork of classic sounds is clearly derivative.
It’s no fault of The Band’s that it has perfected its own collage of sound, though it leaves Caught in a Summer Swell feeling stale and caught in its own humid air. On the track “Music Television,” the band garners a particularly palatable sound that would be fitting on the channel it is ostensibly referencing. The drum fills are predictable and the youthful lament is trite (see: “Young and Dumb”).
For some, this sound comes at the perfect time and is the perfect blend of what a 30-something is looking for in music. For others, it’s standard, even in light of the talented songwriting.
The band in Heaven tagged itself on Bandcamp as Shitgaze, which sounds like just another uber-specific sub-genre to be lost in a sea of music snobbery, but somehow, it fits. It has the keenest of pop sensibilities, and every track has its own golden moment or melody that harps back to the sunnier days of the early ’90s. It’s perfect for its context, though this comes at the expense of original sound.
the band in Heaven - Caught in a Summer Swell tracklist:
- “Dandelion Wine”
- “Does It Show”
- “Summer Swell”
- “Fairweather Friends”
- “Tunnel Into Your Dreams”
- “Music Television”
- “Young and Dumb”
- “Disappear Here”
- “Farewell Summer”