Githead is a supergroup from another dimension: a quarter of Wire, half of Minimal Compact, and the force behind Scanner combined. Those arriving here for the first time may be expecting noise terror, but those intelligent enough to have checked out the band's debut, the Headgit EP, will already know Githead is more about tightly-honed, energetic pop songs that get into your head and take up residence.
Profile is not just more of the same, though. Indeed, this album finds the band making something of a quantum leap, especially in the manner in which the music is delivered. Headgit was a fun EP: a result of the collision of three largely compatible, long-time musical minds. But Profile is something more, although it's hard to put your finger on exactly what. It's as if the band is its own entity and it's somehow grown up. While Profile is hardly the most deadly serious of records, it's certainly more mature than the band's debut: the arrangements are tighter, the mix is better, and the continually weaving mesh of instruments weaves its way further into your brain.
This, in part, is down to the music. Still somewhat wearing its punk-funk influences on its sleeve, what Profile sometimes lacks in terms of direct and memorable melodies, it makes up for with funky rhythms, Spigel's dynamic, churning basslines, and a sublime mesh of overlaid guitars. Githead is far from a one-trick-pony, though, and while those who suggest references to P.I.L. aren't far from the mark at times, Profile's mood constantly changes during its 45-minute length. Nowhere is this more apparent than during the three-track run from Cosmology for Beginners to They Are: the first of those tracks is a funky, angular and slightly shouty pop song, which is followed by the heavy and intense, guitar-churning instrumental Antiphon, which in turn gives way to the laid-back, glittering grooves of They Are. Elsewhere, Alpha manages to sandwich all of these ideas into one classic six-minute effort.
But the music isn't the only thing that Profile has going for it. One of the criticisms levelled at the band's debut was its insistence on throwaway lyrics. Newman's hacking up a load of junk mail created a few charming and wry moments (and the stomping Profile), but it all felt a little inconsequential (which, presumably, was part of the point). That's not the case here—although some of this album's words are perhaps a little disposable, Alpha's complex rhymes coupled with Newman's stern delivery, underpinned by strong, engaging rhythms, seem to confirm the band's newfound maturity, and also that Profile fires on all cylinders at once. Suddenly, it all matters. Even better is My LCA—Spigel's ode to her 'little box of magic'—one of the most emotionally charged tracks Swim~ has ever released (not least due to Spigel's sensitive and slightly fragile delivery), and even more poignant for those who know of Spigel's dedication to her photography. They Are is another classic lyric, built from Googlisms, yet the edit provides an insight into the band that's surreal, full of character, and unlike anything else you're ever likely to hear about them. And, finally, who could do anything other than love a CD that has within it the genius chorus of "shrink the world/micro hip/streets ahead/love at first sight", sung in the most swimmingly melodic manner? Not me, that's for sure.
Craig Grannell (June, 2005)