REVIEW: Helms: The Swimmer
Helms: The Swimmer [Kimchee, 2000] (mp3s)
Three words? it's all grey
There is something very grey about the The Helms' debut lp, The Swimmer. This is not a value judgement, merely an observation. And maybe an important one when you consider that I've rarely heard an album which evokes in my mind only the idea of grey. The exact meaning of this escapes me, unfortunately. Maybe it's kind of like when you're fourteen and you're watching the rain bead on the windows of your car as you drive home after a long Sunday spent shopping at the mall with your parents and a sad pop song that you haven't heard in a while - and despite yourself you kind of like - comes on the radio. It does the job by concretizing the melancholy already present in your surrounding environment. But you've heard songs like it so many times. It succeeds not as an independent artistic statement, but as a reproduction of the sound of an effective genre.
The Swimmer is like that pop song. It's effective but unoriginal. There's nothing particularly wrong with this album. In fact, I kind of like it. Kind of.
The Helms are a three piece that play slow, moody parts with speak-sing vocals reminiscent of Slint or the For Carnation, and loud, rock-out parts with speak-sing lyrics reminiscent of Slint or the For Carnation.
I'm not exactly sure of the purpose an album like this serves. It's almost identical to a large number of post-rock/math-rock albums released in the nineties and as far as I can discern the Helms add nothing new to the formula - a formula growing very old.
In the info sheet provided by Kimchee Records a line is contained which reads "musically the songs ask questions." I agree. These might include: "Spiderland is a good album, but if you want to listen to Spiderland, why not throw on Spiderland. Why is June of 44, the For Carnation and Eleventh Dream Day not enough? Why must I exist?"