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“Can’t Swim?” is ALMA’s Latest Dream-Pop Banger

Read Time:2 Minute, 43 Second

The excitement of sharing new artists with you all will never subside, especially when they have as unique a sound as ALMA, a trio of ladies based in NYC who are bringing a quirky, cinematic, DIY approach to pop. With backgrounds in film scoring and audio engineering, these ladies are creating music that is immersive, chock full of vocal harmony and homegrown production, and cut with a dash of sass and a side of groove.

Though the pandemic hit in the middle of writing and recording their debut album, ALMA leaned into the creative constraints of studio shutdowns and went rogue with production at home that has become part of their signature sound. Armed with a mobile microphone and a DIY sensibility, they use airplanes as cymbals, parental phone chats as texture, slices of last year’s Fourth of July Party, and even samples of a roomie splashing in the tub to produce their music out of the recording studio with the sounds of the world they inhabit. Then, they bathe it all in ethereal harmonies and old-fangled synthesizers.

Their debut LP Mosaic is a personal letter to NYC. Each song delivers the story of a moment in time in the city they call home. Mosaic invites you to sit beside them on the subway, walk with them through Astoria Park, and ride the Wonder Wheel at night as you feel into what it means to be a New Yorker.

“Can’t Swim?” tackles the subject of feeling like a fish out of water in NYC from the perspective of an immigrant. Feeling like a fish out of water doesn’t take moving to a new city – it can happen at a new job or even at a loud party with a bunch of people you don’t know. But to move to a city like NYC, with all its hustle and bustle, as an immigrant – thousands of miles away from friends and family, dealing with language and cultural barriers – talk about a task that will you make you feel like you’re struggling to stay afloat in the middle of a sea storm. And while finding footing in unfamiliar situations may feel like a rite of passage, the journey to the end is still a feat to be accomplished.

The track starts off very high-energy, driven by a small ensemble of strings, drums, and synths, that make you feel as though you’re the subject of this song, about to embark on this brand new journey. There’s excitement building up as horns join in and the drum beats surge. Quickly-paced lyrics roll through the instrumentals to follow the subject as they begin to experience the city. The vocals in the chorus are more expansive and elongated, inviting listeners to a front-row seat to understanding what it feels like to not be able to swim in these conditions. Sounds of the city are layered behind the second verse, adding to the immersive experience. A well-placed cacophony of sounds takes over right before the final verse, creating a generally overwhelming feeling to match that of the subject.

And as the chorus reminds you, if you need a place that you feel like you can’t swim…ALMA has quite the recommendation.

Elena Lin Editor
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Elena Lin Editor
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