Sunday, May 16, 2021

Swim School’s Latest Single ‘Outside’ Makes Waves in the Scottish Alt Rock Scene

Scotland may be a bit chilly for swimming lessons, but Edinburgh alt rock band Swim School are here to teach us a powerful lesson about prioritizing mental health in their latest single, ‘Outside’.

Following their first sold-out headline show in 2020 at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh, Swim School jumped straight in at the deep end of the Scottish alternative scene through various appearances at prominent music festivals including TRNSMT, Belladrum, and Tenement Trail. Despite the onset of COVID-19, this 4-piece has gained a significant British following a long the way as they have released several headbanging singles. However, the band’s sound has greatly evolved from the indie pop vibes of their debut single ‘Sway’ in 2019.

Released May 7th, 2021, ‘Outside’ enters uncharted waters for Swim School, that listeners fond of The Cure, Wolf Alice, and Smashing Pumpkins will especially appreciate. Through a unique juxtaposition of lead singer Alice Johnson’s dreamy vocals, lead guitarist Lewis Bunting’s gnarly guitar riffs and topped off with an energetic beat by drummer Billy McMahon: the single evokes an unflinching emotional effect difficult to come by in the alt rock genre.

In Johnson’s words on the band’s Instagram, “Outside is based on the negative impact the toxic people have on your mental health and the moment you realise how toxic they are... It’s about the challenge of finding the strength to cut toxic people out of your life and putting yourself, your happiness, and your mental state first. It’s also about realising that toxic people will never change and that is not your responsibility to change them.”

This powerful message is instantly validated through the heart-wrenching opening lyrics, “Now I see the way / You destroyed me.” The chorus continues to communicate the importance of eliminating negative people to improve mental health through the line: “Took time to get to you / All along I could see straight through / I always wanted more.” Johnson closes the song with the triumphant words, “I see I’m doing better without you,” that sees all instruments cut out on the word “you.” This simple effect creates a vulnerability that perfectly emphasizes the complex emotions behind the lyrics.

There’s no question that the world needed a splash of ‘Outside’ as a reminder to prioritize mental health and happiness, something particularly relevant during the current pandemic. With live shows once again on the horizon, Swim School is undoubtedly a band to dive back in with.


Nickie Finnegan 


Image: Rory Barnes / Press


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