June 18, 2024


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King Hanna – “The Big Swimmer” (review) – ByteFM

King Hanna – “The Big Swimmer” (review) – ByteFM

King Hanna – “Big Swimmer” (city slang)


King Hannah didn't sound very British on their debut album I'm Not Sorry, It Was Just Me. Aside from occasional British pop references (“Ants Crawling On An Apple Stork”), Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle preferred to focus on Americana styles such as blues, country or folk, which found their visual reflections in American film and television. The heart of the United States of America beats in the center and south, at least not on its urban fringes. Fragile, dangerous, white, and Republican. A legend that thankfully seems to be fading away, but it still has its influence and appeal – as is evident with King Hanna.

With their new album 'Big Swimmer', the Liverpool duo have expanded their music to include a variety of other musical influences. King Hanna's music is not original (if it exists), but rather it blends stories and narratives from cinema, literature, and music with their longing projections of the land of limitless possibilities. The View from the Outside does not build the cold sterility of meta music, but rather is personal and emotional.

American dream

One dimension one two three four King Hannah and Sharon Van Etten open the album in classic songwriter-oriented fashion. “I'm a big swimmer. 'I'll swim in anything,' goes the empowerment anthem. The swimmer metaphor will accompany the album in various forms. Here it gives the protagonist a push into the wide world – 'It's right to do it.'” Craig Whittle then lets his guitar run free And musically it sets the theme of the album again. “Big Swimmer” is designed as a road movie and has an incoherent plot that you can basically move along incoherently or simply: you have to let yourself be carried away. Maybe that's why one tends to uncover a secret arc of tension, because The individual parts of the album have little in common with each other geographically and musically.

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Anyone who reads “Big Swimmer” in theory has to live with the fact that there are shifting first-person viewpoints. One is the story of Hannah Merrick herself. In New York Let's Do Nothing, the heroine moves to New York. Style: Literary spoken word poetry, inevitably reminiscent of Florence Shaw from the dry cleaning company. Musically, “New York Let's Do Nothing” touches on Sonic Youth, and Patti Smith's “Just Kids” lyricism can be a reference point. Merrick moves the story of her encounter with Craig from Liverpool to New York to intertwine it with Patti Smith's encounter with Robert Mapplethorpe. Searching for work, finding it and losing it again, listening to music, going to the Whitney Museum. The fact that Patti Smith's naive attitude contrasts with Merrick's soothing vocals leaves a clue as to what Patti Smith might sound like as a songwriter in 2024.

Ironic retro undertones

The life of a bohemian is subjected to a reality check in “The Rank.” This sordid gloom reflects the perilous reality of the Chelsea Hotel. A little glamor, a lot of misery and experiments with LSD: “Is there a mattress, does it fly or does it float?” But anyone who thinks the story can be spelled out so precisely all the time is wrong. Because the album drifts into the unrealistic, unsettling world of “I'm not sorry, it was just me.” Huge lyrics from the evil subconscious are combined with terse observations of everyday life: In “Milk Boy (I Love You)” a boy without shoes is abused by his father. “Suddenly Your Hand” is even more disturbing: “You know a lot of them don't kill but they still torture” – these are words with sarcastic, reactionary undertones, but Merrick never formulates their stories, instead leaving them to expand. Guitar played by Craig Whittle. Completely Lost She is King Hanna in “Somewhere Near El Paso,” a nugget between slate rock and desert rock that lacks internal tension.

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“I feel like I'm on the front cover of this 'Slint' album,” says grunge hit “Lily Pad,” echoing the title of the band bathing in a lake on the black-and-white cover photographed by Will Oldham Motive: Are you still swimming or have you already been aborted? Musically, King Hanna returns to traditional song arrangements for the final part of “Big Swimmer.” “Davey Says” is a short, evasive ballad with beautiful harmony vocals that build the shaky soul. Sharon Van Etten sings again on “This Wasn't Intentional” and that would have been a great anchor for the entire album. Wouldn't there be a “John Prine on the Radio” finale that raises the question of whether everything before was just a bored housewife's daydream while a chicken cooked in the oven? It is part of the nature of American melodrama to return from the ideal state by catharsis to the original pastoral state. King Anna deals with this with biting sarcasm: Here is the tribulation of the beginning again.

Release date: May 31, 2024
Tag: city slang

Image with text: Support Association

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