Headswim: Despite Yourself
Despite Yourself by Headswim
Released September 1997 by Sony
Headswim was formed in Essex England by ex-Blinder frontman and guitarist Dan Glendining along with his brother, drummer Tom Glendining.
The two put the group together by recruiting their friend Clovis Taylor to play bass and local musician Nick Watts signed on as keyboardist.
The new outfit immediately began writing and recording, completing two EPs, 'Tense Nervous Head' and 'Moment of Union', during their first year together.
These early recordings had a grungy, American rock feel most reminiscent of Pearl Jam and other less punk, more jam-oriented Seattle artists of the time. As it turned out, that was just the attitude many record labels were looking for and Headswim signed a contract with Sony Music in 1994.
A year later they released their slightly heavier full-length debut 'Flood' in England.
The single "Crawl" from this first major release had a decent impact on U.K. radio charts and the band embarked on their first extensive tour, hitting many European markets.
Things slowed down briefly for the band when Dan and Tom's brother, Mathew Glendining, passed away after a long battle with leukemia. While regrouping emotionally from the loss, Dan Glendining, powered through many cathartic songwriting sessions. Much of this material was developed when Headswim began work on their second album, 'Despite Yourself'.
1. "Tourniquet" 4:16
2. "Hype" 3:54
3. "Years on Me" 2:54
4. "Clinging to the Wreckage" 4:37
5. "Better Made" 4:55
6. "Wishing I Was Naïve" 4:35
7. "Old Angel Midnight" 3:50
8. "Holy Ghost" 3:11
9. "Burnt Out Shell of Bliss" 4:02
10. "Devil in My Palm" 4:17
11. "Moving On" 4:17
12. "Brother" 4:36
There are plenty of songs that reference Glendining's loss as well as other quasi-spiritually themed tracks that explore the mysterious and other more personal lyrical ideas.
A couple of the many highlights include the desperate and yearning 'Clinging to the Wreckage' and 'Devil in My Palm', but the best track might be the Radiohead-inspired 'Better Made', with its sprawling, emotive chorus and tremolo guitar accompaniment that echoes some of 'The Bends'' finer moments.
'Despite Yourself' is an exquisite exercise in catharsis and musical tribute.
The outsanding first track and single 'Tourniquet' was a minor radio hit in both America and the U.K.
It is a powerhouse of a track, with time changes and mood swings aplenty.
It's followed by 'Hype' which is another powerful song; brash, angry and quirky.
The eclectic quality of the rest of the album never let's up and is rounded off by the beautifully sad 'Brother'.
Basically 'Despite Yourself' is an absolute classic, but alas, a Hidden Gem.
The group's first American tour took place in the same year, as they hit stages around the U.S. with Kula Shaker.
'Despite Yourself' turned out to be the last major recording from Headswim, who after separating from Sony, managed only to release the underrated and unheard, independent U.K. single 'Dusty Road' in 2000.
It's unfortunate that Glendining and company experienced the letdown of losing their label home when they did, as the band had battled through a tough personal tragedy, and through it, managed to make real artistic gains.