When we were in high school, Hellogoodbye’s “Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! and More!” was our obsession primarily due to the group’s innovative pop-synthetic sound. In 2006, electronic music wasn’t at its prime like it is now, so we like to say Hellogoodbye was a band ahead of its time. As the years passed, the genre withered away its other components on the radio waves and music festivals across the world, which further proved electronic and synthetic sounds are not a sub genre to any other category, but in a realm of its own. There is no time like the present for a band, which produces pop tracks intertwined with quirkily spontaneous beats, to enter the music scene. The music world is ready to vigorously revive the tunes of 2006 with the debut album, “Water Colours”, from the Minneapolis band, Swimming With Dolphins.

Swimming With Dolphins is most likely not a band you have heard of until now. Despite the band’s title, the group’s creator has provided you with tracks that could be filed under your ‘Top 25 Most Played’ on iTunes. Singer and songwriter, Austin Tofte, formally of Owl City, worked diligently on this debut for about 2 years. In case you don’t remember, Owl City’s track “Fireflies” hit number on the billboard charts and the single’s music video was beautifully lit and inspirationally sung. Owl City might have been snubbed for a 2009 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, but the disappointment did not discourage Tofte to keep making inventive and inspiring music.

In 2008, Tofte, teamed with friend, Adam Young, on a side project to Young’s Owl City band. Deciding to devote his time fully to Swimming With Dolphins, Tofte left Owl City, signed with Tooth & Nail and headed into the studio to record “Water Colours”. Produced by Aaron Sprinkle, Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount, “Water Colours” will be released May 17th via Tooth & Nail. Within the 10 track album, it is evident that Tofte knows the band’s sound to the tee by possessing the best lyrical, instrumental and technological elements to express it. “Water Colours” is a music journey and we are glad to set you off on the ride.

Let the happiness persist with “Water Colours”‘s opening track, “Holiday.” We are big fans of tracks about love featuring two vocalists. There is no better way to convey emotions of devotion or heartbreak than with a female and a male communicating with each other through song. The female-male duet sung over the smooth synthetic tempo express an oddly organic sound instilled with genuine feelings. “Holiday” depicts the cheerful side of pop-synthetic music minus the cheesiness we often hear in duets, such as those of “High School Musical,” dare we even compare the two.

The inclusion of female vocals does not conclude with “Holiday”; the sweeter sounds persist right on through to the first released single off “Water Colours”, “Sleep To Dream.” Rather than sticking with the proven to be workable rhythmic exchanges seen in the duet of “Holiday,” Tofte takes a different route for “Sleep To Dream” with his vocals at the forefront. We have no complaints with that confidently chosen path. Tofte exudes the perfect amount of control over his vocals. At no point in the track does he overwhelm us. The tempo of “Sleep To Dream” runs right through his body, which is shown with his vocals gliding over the beats. This complementary relationship between the vocals and instrumental sounds is not an easy task to accomplish. We often hear those pop-infused tunes where we can imagine separating the vocals and tempos and placing them with other tracks of the same genre. Not surprisingly, the new relationships formed work, but the same destruction and rebuilding process does not thrive for Tofte. He and no one else is meant to sing to the beat of “Sleep To Dream.”

As the album takes hold, we find ourselves not concentrating as much on the pleasantly idiosyncratic beats, but rather the lyrics of the tunes. This shift in concentration kind of happened naturally. We are not sure what caused it, but the variation only served to be constructive to our review. The somber sounds of “I Was A Lover,” “Captured” and “Happiness” made us dig passed the synthetic tempo and halt at the emotional “baggage” that situates itself between lovers, whether it be positive or negative for the relationship.

This hole we dug was not only productive for this post, but more importantly for the debut album of Swimming With Dolphins. The maze of “Water Colours”, which is comprised of vocals, lyrics and instrumentals, had us feeling unsettled even after we found our way out through track #10. There is more to this album to be discovered than with one passageway through. Swimming With Dolphins, “Water Colours,” is a magical ride that will continuously have you pressing play until you are satisfied with your handful of treasures.

by Lonnie Nemiroff

Swimming With Dolphins
Swimming With Dolphins

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