With backgrounds in film scores and audio engineering, ALMA are a New York based dream pop trio creating music ‘cut with a dash of sass and a side of groove’. You certainly feel it in the runaway train agitation of their new single ‘Can’t Swim?’, created with multi-instrumentalist, artist and producer Elliot Moss. You race along with the track, intoxicated with its power and without a moment’s respite until the close.
About moving to a new city as an international immigrant, ‘Can’t Swim?’ joins the pantheon of odes to that great idea that is New York with the rearview mirror wisdom of ‘not knowing what you actually signed up for until you’re way too deep in to “swim out.” I’ve always thought the comparison between first impressions and a lived-in place are fascinating. The light is different, the buildings are taller. ‘Can’t Swim?’ perfectly captures the overwhelming disproportion of things on first sight, before you understand how all the pieces relate to one another.
Take the percussion. It’s beautiful, precise and organic, but aligned with the staccato vocal delivery and harmonies everything feels disjointed. Gorgeously disjointed, but still jaunty and eerie. Every detail of the song is in competition with the others to shine until the pace changes, which brings some welcome brass. That brass really shows off on its second outing. It reminds me of the trumpet player shining through chaos in Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby.
Some songs are one course. ‘Can’t Swim?’, from ALMA, is the whole meal- with drinks, table, and the four walls of the restaurant too. It’s a world within itself- a real piece of art, and it will get under your skin.
‘Can’t Swim?’ is released on January 19th.