It is impossible to review Ou Est Le Swimming Pool’s debut album without touching upon the tragic suicide of frontman Charles Haddon this summer. They say that great things often come out of terrible tradegies and I’ve read many reviews of ‘The Golden Year’ over the past few days that state that the album is the great thing to come out of Charlies death. How this can be the case I’m not sure, the album would have still been released if this tragic event had not occured and now it only confirms the great loss we as music lovers have suffered.
‘The Golden Year’ opens with the ballad ‘You Started’ which could be considered a weak album starter by many, but for me it is so much more poignant in light of the recent circumstances. It showcases Haddon’s vocals beautifully and the lyrics really hit home. Yes it may go against the grain of most first tracks, but there is no denying that it makes a much stronger impact.
Next up is new single ‘The Key’ which is fast becoming one of my favourite releases from the band. With clear influences from iconic synth pop acts such as the Pet Shop Boys, A-HA and other 80’s greats this has one of the catchiest vocal melodies on the album. A great choice for single release.
To complete the running order singles hatrick we’re presented with ‘These New Knights’ and ‘Dance The Way I Feel’ next. Both tracks contributed to Ou Est Le Swimming Pool’s rapid elevation into the public eye and their success soon followed. I still remember the first time I heard ‘Dance The Way I Feel’ at what I believe was the bands first gig. I was DJ-ing inbetween bands and was pretty bored with what I’d heard all night until the synth melody kicked in and I was hooked. I’m still not bored of the track to this day, truly an anthem for our generation, without doubt.
Passing through ‘Better’, ‘Outside’ and fantastic single ‘Jacksons Last Stand’ brings us to my next highlight, ‘Our Lives’. The combination of Haddon’s Gary Numan / Neil Tennant esque vocals and the slow, drawn synth melody produces something quite haunting. Turn your headphones up high for this one, I challenge you not to be swept away.
‘Curtain Falls’ is possibly the most uplifting track of the album, its arrangement contradicts the melancholic lyrics but together they fit like puzzle pieces. Finally, the perfect end to the album comes in the form of the 21st century tale of love and loss ‘Next To Nothing’.
All in all, a brilliant debut and the perfect legacy for a promising career that was ended way too soon.