Dentist - Night Swimming (Cleopatra Records)

Dentist – Night Swimming (Cleopatra Records)

Dentist have been quietly ploughing the furrow of their breathless, exhilarating indie-pop for the best part of a decade now. Be it perhaps for the un-googleable name, or what other mitigating factors, their sun-dappled, bittersweet surf-rock tunes haven’t really gained the plaudits of many of their peers Stateside.

Perhaps this is because Dentist, for all the influence their native New Jersey has, are a fairly Anglophilic prospect. Emily Bournemann’s restless, helium vocals are reminiscent of the first wave of British punk, filtered through the melodic sensibility of Fortuna Pop! mainstays like Bearsuit. There is an incredibly concise pop sensibility married to an awkwardness and rawness throughout the record that recalls all the very best classic British guitar pop.

Opener ‘Upset Words’ is absolutely barnstorming, relentless in its melodicism and absolutely packed with earworms which move in unexpected directions. Like the body of the record, there’s something galvanisingly youthful about it – from the way the band play like their lives depend on it (the sort of devil may care attitude you can only really embody in your salad days) to the longing, carnal naivety of the vocal performance.

It’s a record absolutely bursting with personality- the band seamlessly veer between a moment of garage-rock aggression to plaintive moments of dream pop while maintaining a very clear identity and recognisable set of sensibilities.

‘Oh’ – another song fixated on anxiety and longing, is a densely harmonious tune that you get the impression Bethany Consentino would kill to write. Figure-Four echoes the criminally underrated and sorely missed Veronica Falls, it’s brittle, sparse parts building tension around the disarmingly honest vocal. ‘Owl Doom Pt.2’ is the record’s most ponderous moment- a welcome moment of respite given the relentlessness of everything that came before. Spidery, plaintive guitar lines recall the likes of Yo La Tengo.

Ultimately, Night Swimming is a really direct album about youth and the aches and pains of growing up, of opportunity (or lack thereof) of desire, of blind optimism. I can’t help but feel that this record would have probably hit me an awful lot harder if I’d heard it when I was 19 rather than 29. A more ‘discerning’, mature ear might be more inclined to pick apart the influences which Dentist wear on their sleeves, rather than just embrace the joyful emotionality of it all. While it might not hit me as hard as it may have done in simpler times, rest assured, if this had come out 15 years ago, I’d be scribbling lyrics from Night Swimming on my pencil case; I can’t think of much higher praise.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.