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SONG OF THE MONTH: Lyena - Keep Swimming

Ellen Degenerates

Lyena - Keep Swimming (2021 RubberHands)

2021 is here, and Lyena are back. Their return, however, has proven to mark an unmistakably significant development for one of the most promising post-punk bands we've encountered since starting this website. Everything that drew us into the maelstrom of this band's self-assured noisiness remains, but 'Keep Swimming' is Lyena refined: a sharper, distilled expression of irrepressible energy that lands with a supreme confidence and an unmissable single to start this year.

Previous releases 'Headlines' and 'Reign' demonstrated this band's undeniable promise. Our comparisons to Shame and Superfood still ring true, but with this latest single, Lyena might just have established a sound identifiably their own. It straddles the melodies of Don't Say That and the explosive pace of Songs of Praise better than any of their previous efforts had managed, but what stands out with clarity here is just how good 'Keep Swimming' sounds.

That opening bass tone churns your face up in the most satisfying way. Along with the drums selecting a more directly up-tempo rhythm, this faster pattern suits Lyena so, so well. It moves with purpose, and it proves quite impossible to stay still while listening as the song gets itself started. But as the song transitions from the wonderful musicality of its verses to the sheer abrasion of its screamed choruses, this song elevates itself beyond most, if not all, of its underground competitors. The breathless, hurried intensity of the hooks are downright fantastic. Every syllable delivered with the rushed desperation of a thought that must be delivered to you, right there and then. It's utterly entrancing, and it's the best this band has ever sounded.

The backing vocals inject an incredible scale to the single, soaring above fantastic guitar performances. Mixing overdriven chords with these messily constructed guitar lines, themselves feeling just as brilliantly frantic as the song's vocal contributions, the single's instrumental elements fuse together to create this astonishingly tight expression of everything Lyena deserve to be congratulated on. It's utterly fantastic.

Leaning more into this aggressive pace, Lyena are a band with even more potential than we ever envisaged. This is essential post-punk music, and if this is the band just getting started, you need to be keeping the group on your radar. It's one of the most immediately magnetic underground rock songs we've heard in months, and it is the perfect tune to kick-start 2021 as our favourite song of January.


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Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fleet Foxes shill.

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