Swans
My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky


4.0
excellent

Review

by Cam EMERITUS
September 21st, 2010 | 205 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Swans return, bigger and more frightening than ever

Thank heavens Swans decided to break up (or call it quits for fourteen years, at least) after Soundtracks for the Blind, because can you even imagine if they tried to continue like that? With that scattershot, whatever-sticks, we-can-basically-do-anything mentality? Swans would just get way too huge; not in popularity, but just in general immenseness. They would eventually release an album that really did everything, and then everything else would just seem minor in comparison. There wouldn't even be need for any other bands, for any other music, if Swans could just do it all. It'd all just be irrelevant, because Swans exist. And they can do everything.

Not that My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky isn't everything, because it's almost everything. It's certainly quite a piece of work, an album that'll make a bunch of people suddenly relieved that there's another Swans album, in a we've missed you kind of way. It's just more focused and direct than their more sprawling stuff, accomplishing just as much or maybe more with less material.

To accomplish this, Swans have effectively whittled down their approach, taking all of their distinct styles (their Wikipedia page lists eleven possible genres to name the band as; many more could easily be successfully argued for) and blending them together into something that, for once, sounds like nothing more than a Swans album. By taking influence from mostly themselves -- the first track, for example, mixes the aggressive and distorted sounds of Filth with the gloomy and prolonged sensibilities of White Light... -- Swans have finally managed to carve out an identity.

This approach alone justifies Swans' reunion and this resulting album: by revisiting their own discography and effectively summing it up, Swans finally get to make an album that defines them as a band, rather than defining an era; it fills a blank void in their repertoire that need to be filled. There's also no denying how generally awesome most of the album is. "No Words/No Thoughts" and "Jim" are some of the most towering, expansive songs you'll hear all year, swelling and building and dropping off abruptly; they're short trips throughout the discography of Swans, and maybe the neurotic mind of Michael Gira. They're undoubtedly engaging.

More important than the band's newfound sense of songcraft is Gira's newfound personality. On past Swans albums, Gira's been a sort of faceless figure, acting as vessel for raw emotions like anger and sadness rather than relating anything personal. But Gira simply looms over this one, his bleak bleat stretched to its stentorian limits, towering over even the most distorted and discordant of songs, like the grim "Eden Prison". His powerful vocals resemble sermonizing more than they do singing; his lyrics could be Revelations, for all I know.

"Little Mouth" could be misconstrued as ending My Father with a whimper, rather than a bang, but really: how else could an album this brutal, this gargantuan, end? It's not a whimper: it's a reprieve, a chance to breathe, finally. God knows you'll need it.



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user ratings (438)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
PsychicChris (4.5)
Swans' first album in nearly fifteen years makes for yet another amazing comeback....

SowingSeason STAFF (4.5)
A heavily diverse concoction by Swans filled to the brim with complex layering, astounding productio...

CryptcSlaughter10 (4)
"SWANS ARE NOT DEAD" - Gira produces another stunning album...

dominics (3.5)
Hopefully, it won't take listeners too far up....


Comments:Add a Comment 
joshuatree
Emeritus
September 21st 2010


3742 Comments


ya this is pretty good for a band that usually kinda sucks

Zanders
September 21st 2010


709 Comments


It's a shame that this album got no hype on Sputnik before it was released. I never saw any news about other than the one I posted.

SeaAnemone
September 21st 2010


20587 Comments


it had a ton of hype, actually. It had a ton of high ratings, even two reviews were mistakenly posted pre-release date.

Digging: Dirty Beaches - Stateless

porch
September 21st 2010


8459 Comments


fuck i still need to hear this

RippingCorpse
September 21st 2010


1087 Comments


band rules

kitsch
September 21st 2010


5107 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

holy fuck i knew they were getting back together but i wasnt expecting an album.

Sabottheory
September 21st 2010


355 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is much better than expected.

gaslightanthem
September 21st 2010


5209 Comments


yay swans

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
September 21st 2010


8907 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

loved this

gaslightanthem
September 21st 2010


5209 Comments


nevermindnevermindnevermind

Shrapnel94
September 21st 2010


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album's awesome.

cvlts
September 21st 2010


8968 Comments


I'll check it out

Skyler
September 21st 2010


1084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I have no idea how you could say Swans usually suck but then find this is be the exception.

joshuatree
Emeritus
September 21st 2010


3742 Comments


because most of their albums just aren't that great, i didn't say this was an exception though

Enotron
September 21st 2010


7695 Comments


this sounds awesome, nice review cam

eternium
September 21st 2010


16338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Will eventually get to those. I only have Filth so far.

aresx
September 21st 2010


307 Comments


never heard of these guys until today
what do you say a good album to start on is? i might get their discography later today :P

Skyler
September 21st 2010


1084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

because most of their albums just aren't that great


and this one is? it's pretty typical swans, albeit less interesting.

joshuatree
Emeritus
September 21st 2010


3742 Comments


yea it is that's what i've been saying any more dumb fucking questions

Rumulox
September 21st 2010


57 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

One of the best swans albums. really good




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