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How to Swim and Live

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Album Review

There could be something in the water when it comes to unashamedly twee English singer/songwriters — or maybe just the rising damp. However considered, Lee Barker's one-man band, aside from some extra vocals and a bit of guitar from others, practically embraces both its songwriting forebears and its national ones; not for nothing is the cover image one of a classic British holiday camp swimming pool, with all the weirdly artificial signifiers of fun one could imagine. From the brisk starter, "For the Attention Of," with jangly guitars, steady beats, liquid nightclub-in-Blackpool keyboards, and calm singing all in just the expected combination, How to Swim and Live is not out to challenge boundaries in the slightest, to its unavoidable detriment. No sound these days is truly outdated — there always seems to be a revival somewhere that thrives without asking for or seeking permission — but everything in the Little Name universe feels so cheerfully isolated in its Dentists/XTC/C-86 hermetically sealed universe that there's little more to be said about it beyond noting those references. This all noted, How to Swim and Live is peppy, sweet, and enjoyable on all those terms; it's practically designed to make Anglophiles the world over imagine skipping down the street on a summer vacation to Berkshire. Lyrical references to the BBC, the Tower of London, and the like crop up (to be fair, so does Annie Hall), and if Little Name doesn't surprise overall, arguably How to Swim and Live was never meant to.

How to Swim and Live, Little Name
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