Strange as it seems, someone has reviewed this album... by comparing The Bowl of Fire's new direction (a direction they were hinting at all along) as akin to the "mainstream" sounds of Dave Matthews. While this same reviewer obviously provides useful biographical information regarding Bird and band, I think the analogy to Dave Matthews is wrong. And I think so because, whatever his merits may be, I find Dave Matthews' music to be antithetical, in effect, to Andrew Bird's. Bird is passionate, clever, self-aware, and always pushing his own envelope -- he continues to innovate & on his own terms. Dave Matthews, on the other hand, has never done anything but bore me, mostly since his music never develops, it just lopes along, on and on, in that queasy "jam band" style I personally don't enjoy.
That said, "The Swimming Hour" could just as well appeal to any kind of music fan. The songs seem, for lack of a better word, necessary -- as if they just HAD to happen that way. Like all great art (sure, this is "pop" -- which is why its greatness is that much more of a rarity), having it around makes me, and may make you, just want to perservere. And, cyber-shoppers, remember, the sound-bytes online just don't do these songs justice. Take my word for it, then take your own.