Options "Swimming Feeling" • Full-Length Cassette Tape
"Swimming Feeling" by Options • Full-Length Cassette Tape (LL-CS-036)
150 copies • High Quality Professionally-Duplicated Cassette Tapes with full screenprinted j-cards built at Landland. Artwork by James Lee Chiahan. Layout by Dan Black. Hand-numbered.
Listen to this tape over on Bandcamp
At one point or another, Seth Engel let go. Swimming Feeling is Options’ “fuck it” record: all fun, no frills, bangers only. While 2020’s Window’s Open sunk into uncertain darkness, Swimming Feeling stumbles through it. Options’ latest record is a reflection in the dark, a triumphant shrug and the answer to a question: “what is this all for?”
In 2018, Engel quit touring and started teaching music at a nonprofit. There, he began breaking down everything he knew about music – the collaboration, the community and the connection. “I love the interaction and sharing of the beautiful mysterious thing that is music. Making this record was a mission to share that thing with myself.”
In addition to teaching, Seth Engel also found himself playing, recording and working with bands like Floatie, Mister Goblin and Water From Your Eyes, finding collaboration to be another natural source of self-reflection. “Watching how different groups of people interact can inform the way I choose to interact with myself,” he explains.
There’s a notable confidence on Swimming Feeling – a clearheadedness that’s both cracked and composed. Following the heady intensity of Window’s Open, Options’ latest is a joyous reconnection with music, and it’s hard not to emphasize Seth Engel’s present ethos. Swimming Feeling is an unpretentious and bonkers-positive perspective on life, craft and perseverance.
Each new Options record has offered a distinct element of Engel’s increasingly refined style and approach. Swimming Feeling is revelatory and referential. “Weathered” takes on the plug-and-play formula from On the Draw, while “Nothing” recalls Wind’s Gonna Blow’s hefty, climactic melodies. This record is the sound of all the songwriter’s efforts coming to fruition, the ideas and experiments of past material coalescing into a cohesive and wise collection of hits.
Engel never worried about translating these songs live after quitting touring, leading to experimentation with songwriting and recording. After several rounds of mixing “The Bend,” Engel added its acoustic outro for variation and balance. Demo elements are present on “Take it Tough,” a piecemeal track Engel finished after diving back into ProTools and manually creating space to insert a new part. And while these songs were assembled with composure and nuance, “Get Me” proves all you need is one hot riff.
The new Options record feels indicative of a new chapter in Seth Engel’s life. It’s bold and good, exceptionally paced, his most realized work yet. Swimming Feeling was built when everything felt broken; Engel picks up the pieces and cranks out the hits.
- Pat Pilch