Get ready to be rewarded. A lengthy tour through an often desperate, but never bleak, American heartland, Swimmin' Time is every bit as good as its predecessor. Indeed, it offers several songs that leave much of what they've previously recorded in the dust; I'm not sure I'll hear a better song, or performance, than album opener "The Devil Is All Around." A record shot through with nautical imagery — a foreboding sense of impending floods, a roiling boil, a bridge on fire, a rising tide — Swimmin' Time is at once about peril and its subduing. The songwriting is dark, it's heavy (never more so than on the album's centerpiece, the six-minute "After The Storm"), but it's always aimed squarely at the light.
Read about the making of Shovels & Ropes' new album here. (Dine Alone)