The word “swell” can be used to describe an injured body part, a feeling of fullness and pride, or it can refer to the ebbing and flowing of the ocean.
In Heart Swell, the new album by Ireland’s garage pop darlings, Dott, the band wear their heart on their sleeve, reflecting on pain, pride, acceptance and personal politics while considering a preoccupation with the ocean. The album sees the band showcase a more confident and powerful sound with walls of fuzzy guitars with layers of addictive melodies and sunshine harmonies. An amalgam of sounds in the vein of Bully meets Broadcast, meets the Breeders, where tenderness and brashness intertwine.
Dott songwriter, singer and guitarist Anna McCarthy spent a week in a cottage by the sea on the West Coast of Ireland writing this record. She spent the days surfing the waves at Lahinch, and the nights holed up, reading writing and recording demos.
Sometimes you have to get away to realize where you are, and McCarthy found herself ruminating on the book-end of a period of change in her life. After spending a year living in Toronto, hundreds of miles from the sea, McCarthy returned to Ireland and couldn’t stay away from the ocean. Themes of the sea, growth and acceptance are splashed across the album’s songs such as “Swim”, “Floating Arrows”, “Heart Swell” and “Bleached Blonde”.
The recent political atmosphere in Ireland found its way into her lyrics too. "Like a Girl" (featuring guitars by Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz) is an anthem to celebrate the work of Irish Women’s Rights Groups. “Wedding Song” sees McCarthy reflect on her own marriage in the year that same sex marriage was made legal in Ireland for the first time and “You Don’t Have To” considers consent and safety.
Heart Swell is the soundtrack of the summer for the generation who have struggled to get to where they are going… but can look back at the journey now and say they enjoyed the ride.