Although Swimming With Dolphins hails from the chilly climate of Minnesota. Front man, Austin Tofte has created a sound with their music that is surprisingly warm and upbeat. Formed in 2008, Swimming With Dolphins released the Ambient Blue EP (production genius of Adam Young / Owl City) later that year to critical acclaim. Since then, Swimming With Dolphins has toured the country with the likes of Owl City, Lydia and Kill Paradise. He has won over countless fans with his ambient electronica pop that speaks to fans of all ages and backgrounds. Deriving his inspiration from the ocean and fond childhood memories of America's largest lakes. One canít listen to his music without smiling from ear to ear. The band crafted their album in Seattle, WA with help from producer Aaron Sprinkle and in Atlanta, GA with the help of producers Zack Odom and Ken Mount.
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'Dolphins' Wades in the Deep End of Synth-Pop| Posted May 16, 2011
So far, 2011 has been a strong year for debut albums. This week synth-pop project Swimming With Dolphins will add to the growing list of anticipated debuts as they release their first album, Water Colours.
The band is the brainchild of Austin Tofte, a Minnesota native who originally formed the project with Adam Young (who would later move on to Owl City fame). Swimming With Dolphins employs other musicians live, but Tofte carries the bulk of the studio work by himself.
Watercolors marks the beginning of Swimming With Dolphins' tenure with Tooth & Nail, following up an independent EP released in 2008. The album takes its place with the other Christian artists who are exploring the synth-pop universe in the wake of Owl City’s success.
The album is surprisingly mellow overall, particularly considering the genre. The album opens with the love song “Holiday,” which relies heavily on back-and-forth male and female vocals. Here the somewhat cynical lyrics seem to contrast with the upbeat backing. This track sets the tone for much of the album, creating an atmosphere that is further cemented by the melancholy “Easy.”
Some of the tracks do take a slightly more upbeat, almost dance vibe. The shimmering “Sleep to Dream” is one of these tracks. Tracks like “Diplomat” and “Jacques Cousteau” add some new themes to the album, taking on the general theme of apathy. “Diplomat” does have the somewhat random placement of some stronger-than-expected language, using “why the h***” at one point towards the middle of the song. This proved a bit jarring for me, and probably will for more than a few listeners.
The title track is halfway through the album and is one of the better songs offered here. The chorus is catchy and instantly memorable. Lyrically, this song also deals with a somewhat dysfunctional relationship.
One of the highlights of the album is the track “Captured,” which can be understood as a worship song encased in an ethereal synth-pop shell. The chorus is a cry of surrender. Tofte's vocals shine here as he sings, “You’ve got me down on my knees, my heart is yours and I am captured.”
The album finishes stronger than it begins. The track “Happiness” manages to sound simultaneously layered and yet very simple. This track also leans heavily on female vocals. The overall effect is haunting.
The closing track mixes things up a bit, drawing on rapper Mod Sun for a guest verse. This track is possibly the most positive and upbeat lyrically as well as musically. It is a strong finish and a good way to end a darker toned album on a positive note.
It is nearly impossible to listen to a contemporary synth-pop album without comparing it to Owl City, even more so when the album is released by one of Adam Young’s former side projects. This album definitely follows in some of the same musical veins as Owl City, but lyrically the two are vastly different.
Water Colours is an album of struggle, usually within the context of a romantic relationship. Tracks like “Captured” provide a much needed break from the somewhat moody overall framework, and I would like to see Tofte attempting more songs in that direction.
Regardless, the floating, dark, mellow atmosphere will probably appeal not only to synth-pop fans but also to anyone who needs good, moody music for a late night. Swimming With Dolphins does not bring anything incredibly new to the electronic table, but there is a refreshing originality in the tension maintained between the lyrics and music. The release is a promising display of elements that will hopefully be further developed in future albums.
Swimming With Dolphins: Water Colours| Posted September 17, 2011
Swimming With Dolphins has been on my list of "need-to-listen-to" artists for a while now. Finally this blog and their new album gave me a reason to listen to them. I always knew they had a style like Owl City and I had heard a few clips of their music on iTunes before; but I had never listened to one of their songs all the way through. I thoroughly regret never listening to them before. Owl City and Swimming With Dolphins are so similar in sound that sometimes I wonder if I am actually listening to Owl City. So, if you like Owl City this is the CD for you. The frontman of Swimming With Dolphins, Austin Tofte, was actually formerly with Owl City.
Swimming With Dolphins' first record entitled Ambient Blue EP was good, but not amazing. Adam Young, the frontman of Owl City, helped to produce Ambient Blue, which turned out very, very mellow. Now Tofte has come out with his sophomore release. I have to say the CD is really solid. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all the songs and I loved the variety on the project as well. Tofte made a great mix of get-up-and-dance songs and slow, mellow songs.
In this review I am actually going to start off with the last song on the album, because Swimming With Dolphins gained my respect with the song "Good Times," which features Mod Sun. Mod Sun rapping on the track made me literally jump up and (in my head) scream. I was so super excited to hear some rap on this album. I thoroughly love electronic, popish music; but rap is definitely my favorite type of music. Tofte made me a life-long fan by adding rap to his album.
The album opened, however, with a really great song too. The song "Holiday" sets the mood for the rest of the album. It is really upbeat, and arguably one of the best songs on the album. It has a female vocalist on it (I have no clue who it is. If you know please let me know, because I would love to know who she is). She really adds a lot to the song and adds something I cannot really put into words. (I am pretty sure she appears on a couple of the other songs too).
Probably the best song after that is the title track "Watercolors." Why is it that the title track usually turns out really good on every album? Anyways, the song has a really nice beat and actually mixes both styles of get up and dance, with slow and mellow.
I really love how the album turned out. I am super excited about Swimming With Dolphins, and I am glad that I finally got a chance to listen to them. As I said earlier, I am no officially a life-long fan of Swimming With Dolphins.
Favorite Song: Good Times
Favorite Lyrics: "I'm a live; and that's all i can ask for tonight. Take a dive. We're never gonna know unless we try." (From the song "Good Times")
4.5/5| Posted August 26, 2011
Swimming With Dolphins comes to us from a former member of Owl City's early days, Austin Tofte. His label debut does strike up some similarites to Owl City but still maintains a sense of freshness. It's a fun album to listen to if you are any at all interested in what the other half of Owl City has been up to.
Good one| Posted May 28, 2011
I heard the album preview. When I first listened to this album I didnt like it much. As I listened it one more time I liked it. I felt the music was good and I enjoyed it. All the songs are nice and in someway connected to relationship. This album is worth listening. Good effort by Swimming with Dolpins.
swimming to the sound| Posted May 27, 2011
Pop/Electronica with auto tune? Is the lyrics like poetry, or is my mind swimming with what it means? The sound is different and dreamy, it makes you wonder what is it about? Then another songs swims in your mind and there it is.
Swimming With Dolphins| Posted May 26, 2011
I am not the type of person to be very critical of any CD that I listen to.I try to find a "silver lining" in everything. I listened to the new Cd by Water Colours with an open mind. The CD is OK,just not for me. I am not a big fan of
synth-pop music. I'm sure many out there are bif fans of this music genre.I would encourage all fans of synth-pop to
support this group and go buy this CD.We need to support different styles of Christian music.
Water Colours by swimming with dolphins| Posted May 26, 2011
This band is a good combination of Owl city and great vocals. I like the messages of the songs. They were mostly about relationships. The lady vocal has a great voice. I would recommend this album to those that listen to pop or contemporary Christian music.
great album| Posted May 26, 2011
this sophomore album by swimming with dolphins is not a bad album. i have previewed it some, and i really do like it. i was a little hesitant after the first ep came out, but this is not a disappointment at all. water colours is a must have.
Water Colours| Posted May 25, 2011
Musically I really enjoyed this release. It reminded me a lot of the 80's synth pop that I grew up with and many of the songs were very catchy and well done. I think I personally would have liked it better if the lyrics and focus had been more on Christ, but this is pretty standard fair for artists on this particular label so I wasn't necessarily expecting that when listening. I think this release would be good for anyone who isn't looking specifically for an album that talks a lot about Christ, but enjoys synth pop and songs about human love relationships.
Owl City and Swimming With Dolphins| Posted May 17, 2011
I fell in love with Swimming With Dolphins at an Owl City concert two years back. They are a lot of fun live. I was very excited when I heard the news taht they were being signed to Tooth & Nail. Hope they tour back through Ohio.