Sunday, 16 October 2016

Album: Sŵnami - Sŵnami


Sŵnami - Magnet

Info: Dolgellau based act, Sŵnami have been shortlisted for this year’s esteemed Welsh Music Prize (the brainchild of Radio 1’s Huw Stephens), and are now hoping their debut album will secure a unique Welsh triple crown. The five piece indie-pop outfit who formed circa 2011 were one of the 12 acts chosen as part of the inaugural BBC Wales led ‘Horizons’ project  in 2014, and were nominated to perform at Eurosonic showcase festival in Groningen in January 2015. Later on in August 2015 they released their debut self titled album.

The album has had a fantastic response and was voted ‘Album of the Year’ by the public in Welsh music magazine Y Selar’s annual awards in February this year. Having won over the public, the album was recently given a critical seal of approval in being named ‘Welsh Language Album of the Year’ by a panel of Welsh music industry experts at Augusts National Eisteddfod (Wales’ biggest cultural event).

Sŵnami - Trwmgwsg (Deep Sleep)

Mixing ambient electronic rock with an indie flair, opening with the atmospheric and brief intro, '1:20', the clue is in the title, we're then immediately launched into 'Trwmgwsg' (above stream), the first Welsh-language track on the bi-lingual album, a track that reminded me specifically of Swedish indie-rock band Kent's Isola or Hagnesta Hill, as well as their fellow Swedes Mew. As early as third track 'Magnet' (top video) it's clear that energy and rolling basslines with percussion are going to play a big part in Sŵnami's sound.

A particular highlight for me was 'Gwenwyn', another high-tempo stomper, which manages to meld upbeat and sombre tones effectively, it's a tightly spun little number that is reminiscent of Irish contemporaries Brass Phantoms musically. Following the instrumental electronic interlude of 'Cysur Cyffur', a cool and swinging hook-driven tracks arrives in the form of 'Mewn Lliw', a solid electro-pop song that brings a nice flash of kooky funk to proceedings, it's smooth alright. 

The funk doesn't stop their by any means, with 'Fioled' certain to be a hit with Irish fans of Republic of Loose and more recently, Dublin's Too Fools, this is perhaps my firm favourite track across the entire album, that guitar riff and thick electro-bass are incredibly enjoyable. As the album draws to a close, there is no let up from, Sŵnami, 'Llwybrau' puts everything into the electronic rock style the band are adept at, but they finish on another strong note with 'La Tramontana' which reflects more on their indie-rock leanings. This mix, between two different styles, whilst retaining their sound, and also balancing the fast pace with calmer intermittent moments of ambiance, work very well in creating a diverse feel and mood for the listener across the LP. It's clear the Welsh act have a lot of creative ideas swimming around their heads and the plaudits received in their home country are not surprising in the slightest based on their self-titled debut album.

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