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"The Golden Year"

Ou Est Le Swimming Pool – The Golden Year
28 September 2010, 10:00 Written by Adrian Mules

It’s impossible to write this review outside the context of Charles Haddon’s suicide and it would be distasteful to cover The Golden Year without acknowledging the tragic circumstances surrounding its release. Charles jumped to his death at the Pukkelpop festival in Belgium this August. It’s believed he was upset after accidentally injuring a fan in a stage diving incident during their set. But with their album completed the decision was made to release it.

The singles that preceded this debut were all high energy fist-pumping tunes, so there was a degree of expectation that the bulk of the album would follow the same pattern. But the opposite is true; the three singles are the most upbeat that The Golden Year has to offer, with the remaining tracks existing in a dark and melancholy corner of the dance floor. With so little water under the bridge it’s difficult to avoid the sadness of Charles’ death forcing them into a bleaker space than was originally intended. Where tracks attempt to push from the shadows and into the euphoric wings beat furiously, but without prevailing winds of joy they fall short of their intended destination.

When listening to ‘Curtain Falls’ its background of a relationship ending feels lost, when a more catastrophic finale has befallen Charles. Its title alone serves to further underline the deeper heartbreak. There’s no question that this is a solid record, but even tracks like the exceptional ‘Dance The Way I Feel’ now echo with an anguish that didn’t seem to be there before.

It’s too early to contemplate whether Ou Est Le Swimming Pool can, or will, continue. Their potential was immense. But the loss of a band pales in comparison compared to the sorrow that will be carried by the loved ones in Charles’ life. In twelve months the ability to get inside this record without the baggage will without doubt reveal it as a modern pop classic, but attempting to focus amongst the turmoil is currently futile.

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