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Review of “Morphine: Like Swimming” (Modern Classics Recordings)

Morphine, the alternative rock band formed in the late 1980s, left an indelible mark on the music scene with their unconventional sound and intoxicating blend of jazz, blues, and rock. Despite the tragic loss of their frontman Mark Sandman in 1999, their music continues to captivate audiences to this day. In celebration of their unique style, Modern Classics Recordings has reissued their highly acclaimed album, “Like Swimming,” which serves as a testament to the band’s exceptional talent.

Released in 1997, “Like Swimming” is an album that effortlessly combines raw energy with smooth melodies, showcasing Morphine at the height of their creativity. Each track invites the listener into a mesmerizing world, built on intricate basslines, soulful saxophone solos, and Sandman’s distinctive baritone vocals. From start to finish, the album captures the essence of Morphine’s sound and showcases their ability to blur the lines between different genres.

One standout track on “Like Swimming” is the opening song, “Lilah.” The track sets the tone for the album with its pulsating bassline and catchy hooks. Sandman’s deep, sultry delivery draws listeners in, as he sings cleverly crafted lyrics that convey a sense of longing and desire. The layers of saxophone and drums add depth to the song, creating an irresistible groove that leaves you wanting more.

Another gem on the album is “Swing It Low,” which further exemplifies Morphine’s ability to seamlessly blend different musical elements. The jazz-infused saxophone riffs paired with the driving rhythm section create a head-bobbing, foot-tapping experience. Sandman’s enigmatic storytelling shines through the lyrics, giving the song an introspective, almost haunting quality.

“Like Swimming” also includes the stunning track “The Night.” As the album’s closing song, it leaves a lasting impact with its somber mood and beautifully crafted instrumentation. Sandman’s melancholic vocals resonate deeply, accompanied by the haunting melody of the bass and the dramatic percussion. The combination creates a sense of ethereal beauty that lingers long after the final note fades away.

The reissue of “Like Swimming” is a timely reminder of Morphine’s contribution to the music industry and their enduring legacy. The album stands as a testament to the band’s ability to push boundaries and defy categorization. It showcases their unique sound, masterfully fusing disparate genres into a cohesive and unforgettable listening experience.

Modern Classics Recordings has done an exceptional job with this reissue, presenting “Like Swimming” in all its glory. The remastered sound allows listeners to appreciate the intricacies of each instrument and Sandman’s rich vocals. Additionally, the inclusion of bonus tracks and extensive liner notes provides valuable insights into the recording process and the band’s creative vision.

For both longtime fans and newcomers alike, the reissue of Morphine’s “Like Swimming” is a must-listen. The album’s ability to transport listeners to another world, filled with introspection and musical brilliance, remains as powerful today as it was upon its initial release. Morphine’s distinctive sound and the undeniable chemistry shared by Sandman and his bandmates continue to inspire and captivate audiences, ensuring their place in the pantheon of alternative rock legends.

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