Swedish indie-pop trio Like Swimming have released their debut album this summer, but Claes Carlström, Ida Hedene, and Petter Wesslander have been writing irresistible tunes together for seven years—and it shows. With seamless harmonies, lightly propulsive rhythms, and a knack for blending the acoustic with the electronic, they sound every inch a well-traveled, well-polished band that’s ready to stake a bold new claim in the world of winsomely catchy love (and death) songs. Theirs is a music so clear, and so vivid, it’s as if you can see to the bottom.
Emerging in late 2012 from a five-member group called You Say France & I Whistle —named for a legendary Van Morrison demo put down drunk in a single take — Like Swimming clearly possess a refined sense of the absurd. That playfulness, combined with a stark intimacy, resulted in their deeply affecting first single, “God Knows,” recorded at a forest cabin north of Stockholm in the dark early months of 2013. Where this song laid bare some painful twists of the human heart with a relatively sparse arrangement, the following single, “Go Buffalo,” combined Gothic lyrics with lush, twinkling keyboards and soaring, carefree hooks. Both tracks unlock fairytale landscapes, the yearning vocals and instrumental precision conjuring nature in all its bright and startling purity.
On the strength of this early work borne out of the wilderness, Like Swimming landed a record deal with DigSin, an American label. Riding a wave of buzz from MTV and indie blogs alike, the trio landed in the U.S. for a fall tour that included sets in Chicago and Nashville as well as LA’s Culture Collide Festival and New York’s CMJ Music Marathon. They even stopped by the Daytrotter Studio and did a take of their song “Let Go” that wound up on the website’s best-of list for 2013. Toward the end of the year, Like Swimming returned to Sweden to record their first proper album at RMV with veteran studio manager Linn Fijal and Brian Malouf, a longtime collaborator whose mixing and production add an impeccable sheen. With another single released in March — when they also hit Austin’s SXSW with fellow Swedish pop outfit Nonono — and an expertly crafted first album soon after, there’s really no question of 2014 becoming Like Swimming’s breakout year among fans of witty, melancholy, but above all dazzlingly pretty pop gems. What remains to be seen is where that success might take them.