PORTS is a talented four-piece based in Derry, Northern Ireland who formed in 2012 while at music college. Influenced by such acts as Phosphorescent, Big Thief, Andy Shauf, Aldous Harding and Stars of the Lid, their music is an incredibly pleasing blend of folk, indie rock and shoegaze. They released their beautiful debut single “Ancient Wave” in 2014, then followed with several more singles which culminated in the release in 2016 of their album The Devil is a Songbird, featuring 13 stunning tracks. It’s really outstanding, and I strongly encourage my readers to check it out.
The guys then toured extensively throughout the UK, the US, Canada and Australia in support of the album, garnering play and live performances on numerous BBC radio channels and MTV, which earned them a strong following. Additionally, eight of the songs from their album have been used in a number of TV shows, including Teen Wolf, Bloodlands, Awkward, Wild Ireland and Love in a Day. Collectively, their songs have been streamed more than 3.2 million times on Spotify alone.
The band took a brief hiatus after touring, then began writing and recording songs again in early 2020, before Covid brought things to a halt. Nevertheless, they managed to drop another lovely single “Reading in the Dark” in August 2020, and once restrictions against gathering together were lifted, they continued with writing and recording songs for their forthcoming second album Wild Awake, replacing some of those they’d previously written with new ones. The songs on the new album will feature a mix of folk rock, Cajun, and electronic lo-fi shoegaze soundscapes. One of the tracks to be included on the new album is “Swimming Pool“.
Band member Steven McCool explains their inspiration behind the song: “During our short hiatus, we didn’t know what we wanted from the band. We had some discussions on what direction to go and what sound we should create, but it became frustrating. When we decided to start writing again we decided we’d stop overthinking and just write. We were just messing about between takes and ‘Swimming Pool’ started to take form. The music and melody fell together within minutes, so we decided to record it. We were using a new lyric writing technique, where we would imagine a scene. So I said I can see someone diving into a swimming pool at night in slow motion. The song ultimately became a metaphor for our emotions, if you fight them they become harder to manoeuvre. So, like swimming you just go with it and it gets easier the more relaxed you are.”
The song is beautiful, with a serene, contemplative vibe that nicely conveys the feeling of someone slowly gliding through the waters of a swimming pool. PORTS creates this enchanting soundscape through the use of a lush array of instruments, including what sounds like cello and mellotron, along with lovely piano keys, gently strummed acoustic and twangy guitars, subtle bass and delicate drums. The warm, soothing vocals, who I’m guessing are Steven’s, perfectly complement the music.
When you held your breath til' the sun came down Beneath the surface a muffled sound When you can't make out the synthetic sea Bead of air attempt to flee Can't stop the overflow round your body It's just a motion, these emotions You can let it go, let it move on It's just a motion, these emotions You sink back down and the picture slows Projected chaos above you glows The water breaks to reveal the sky A road to take reflects in your eye Can't stop the overflow round your body It's just a motion, these emotions You can let it go, let it move on It's just a motion, these emotions
The beautiful video shows gauzy images of the band performing the song interspersed with those of a swimmer slowly gliding through the water, all filmed in a deep shade of blue.