"Rock that doesn't rock" is one way to classify what Olympic Size does. "Rock that lies awake at night and fingers a bottle of pills, watches clouds drift past the moon, listens to the breathing of a lover whom it no longer is sure it loves, then gets up, has a cup of tea and decides it can make it through another day" is an even better way to describe it. The name Olympic Size comes from founder, singer, songwriter and guitarist Billy Smith's ironic take on his initial status as sole band member. Now, with the vocals of Kirsten Paludan in the pool, the deep end is a whole lot deeper -- so much that we sort of wish Smith would step aside for Paludan more often and let us completely drown in her masterful, world-weary voice. The minimalist instrumental array of synth, drums (or drum programming) and restrained, almost downtrodden guitar work is fleshed out and complex enough to keep the album from dragging as Smith intones doleful lines such as Who's gonna save my life?
/Who's gonna pay the price to save us all?
Indeed, Set Free
may be the saddest album ever to come out of the indie-rock scene, but Olympic Size's beautiful engineering and complete refusal to deal in cheap sentiment make us very, very happy.