Song of the day: Seth Swirsky – "Watercolor Day"

June 6, 2010

I was debating with myself whether to make this a short-and-to-the-point post or yet another long-winded one. In the end I thought I’d give you both and you can decide which one you want to read…


If you’re a fan of Sunshine Pop and familiar with the initials B.W. and P.McC. then your ship has sailed in. An American chap called Seth Swirsky has released an album called Watercolor Day, and I reckon you’ll like it. A lot.

Here’s the title track:

Seth Swirsky – “Watercolor Day” (2010)



A lovely lady by the name of Chrissy (Hi, Chrissy!) emailed me a few days ago and said something like “Would you mind mentioning Seth Swirsky‘s new album on your blog? It’s called Watercolor Day. A lot of people like it, and you might, too!”

When someone as lovely as Chrissy asks me if I’d like to listen to an album, I’m all ears.

The first time I listened to Watercolor Day I thought it was nice. Nothing really leapt out at me and said “This is great!”, and all the songs sort of just floated by. It was very pleasant but low-key. The second time I listened to it I liked it a little more. And on the third listen I liked it more again. I’m glad I listened to it at least three times (the regulation minimum for me before I decide what I think about an album), because it took four listens before the album ‘clicked’ for me. Once it did, I was transported to where Seth’s mind was when he recorded the album: the West Coast of America between 1968 and 1973.

Watercolor Day is not a party record. It’s not a record designed to rev you up as you’re about to go out for the evening. It’s not a record that will prompt you put on leather pants, grab a six-pack of beer, and shout “Yeah!”.

This is exactly what kind of record it is:

You live in a beach house with huge open windows overlooking the surf, and you’re waking up on a sunny Sunday morning, hearing the sound of the waves and slowly opening your eyes. You notice that it’s going to be another beautiful day.

That’s what the records sounds like.

A good thing about the title track – which opens the album – is that it lets you know precisely how you’re going to spend the next 43 minutes:

Seth Swirsky – “Watercolor Day” (2010)


I reckon “Watercolor Day” makes a great musical calling card.

The album has a whole heap of musical references to make you feel right at home. For instance, there’s the Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey-ish “Movie Set” which may just be the best late-Beatles pastiche since ELO first formed:

Seth Swirsky – “Movie Set” (2010)


And there’s “Living Room” which is a close cousin to Crowded House‘s “Four Seasons In One Day“:

Seth Swirsky – “Living Room” (2010)


There are less obvious influences, though. Seth’s singing on “Sand Dollar” reminded me of a young Graham Gouldman:

Seth Swirsky – “Sand Dollar” (2010)


And, as you can deduce by all the sunny-ness involved, the sound of The Beach Boys is all over this album, especially on a track like “Matchbook Cover”:

Seth Swirsky – “Matchbook Cover” (2010)


There are a few other artists that Seth ‘channels’ for the sound of the album (such as Harry Nilsson and Burt Bacharach), but I’m not trying to tell you that everything on the album sounds like something else (I may have failed) – I’m just letting you know Seth’s points of reference. It is Seth’s album after all. And it sounds unified, too, which is something I really go for because I’m an album listener (whenever I put on an album I listen to the whole thing, even if it’s something that has three good songs and nine dreadful ones).

So, if you’ve heard the above tracks and liked what you heard, you’ll probably like the album. For me, it’s gotten better with each listen. So if you buy it, please play it at least three times. Or five.

Watercolor Day official website
Seth Swirsky offical website
Seth Swirsky on MySpace
Seth Swirsky on Facebook