Swimming With Dolphins’ Ambient Blue is exactly as the title implies. The music has an ambient quality to it, eerie and ethereal, but with a tinge of melancholy – “blue” – lurking beneath the surface. It is music fit for dusk on a beach, sitting in cool sand, but also an apt soundtrack to a drizzly midnight stroll illuminated only by hazy streetlights. Together, Austin Tofte and Adam Young have masterfully crafted a dreamy synth-pop EP, evoking a wide range of emotions.
“Silhouettes” is breathtaking and heartbreaking all at once. The lyrics seem to drive a stake through the listener’s chest, somehow in a good way. At one point, the breathy Breanne Duren ponders, “Who really needs the past/with the allure of something new?” And later: “I am sure, I never will be sure/we were in love.” An outcry against an increasingly distant lover, “Silhouettes” is incomparable to the other tracks. Tofte’s voice gives the listener chills, and Duren is the perfect complement. The mid-song musical interlude evokes visions of an underwater cave orchestra. Tofte closes out with an exasperated and vulnerable, “So hold on tightly to your vices…no matter what, you’ll always see/the aura that is left from me.”
“Pajama Party” begins with a chiptune melody, reminiscent of a mid-1990’s video game. It morphs into an endearing, (and somehow enticing) invitation to “sleep on the beach/with blankets made from leaves of palm trees/we’ll say let’s never leave.” It soon becomes apparent that the singer is, in fact, imagining all this in his head. He wistfully leads into the chorus with, “I’ll always wake up so confused/each time I have that dream of you/So if you dreamt of me, too/Does that mean we dreamt the same dream?”
“Sunset, 1989” is a defiant anthem, boasting lyrics like, “I know we’ll always be fair-weather friends, to the end/if there’s a cause, it’s already lost/’cause I tried the last time and you tossed me aside again/but it won’t happen again.” “Everything’s a Miracle” is a full, scrumptious dance track brimming with comparisons between the singer’s love interest and the stars. “Up in the Stars,” a ballad going from choppy vocals to crooning, “the days go by…the days go by…” is a perfect end to an equally satisfying EP.
I remember hearing Ambient Blue in middle school and being blown away. It still takes my breath away. Fresh, catchy hooks mask contemplative and often melancholy lyrics, a combination that is alluring and unforgettable.