Swans
To Be Kind


4.5
superb

Review

by DelPaxtonsTheMan USER (6 Reviews)
May 13th, 2014 | 1121 replies | 60,668 views


Release Date: 05/13/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Natural Beauty

28 of 32 thought this review was well written

When listening to an album for the first time, I often like to experience it in nature. A few miles from my house, buried in the depths of an evergreen forest, is an abandoned rock quarry. There's a large pond surrounded by dead grass, and eerie-looking hills of red clay are interspersed in the desolate landscape. From a large mountain standing in the middle, you can see the distant confines of the state prison. When I heard that Swans was coming out with a new full-length, I knew this would be the place to experience it.

The day I got my hands on the album, I made my way to the rock quarry. The sun was setting as I pushed play. The relatively light and accessible Screen Shot greeted me and showed the band's surprising ability to channel the light ambience of Soundtrack for the Blind, yet reinforce their sound with the punk and noise rhythms that dominated earlier releases. Michael Gira's poetic croons dominated as the song built to an eerie climax that balanced the band's traditional cacophony with their newly rediscovered liveliness.

As I made my way up the mountain, I continued to listen to the unique sound that I've come to love Swans for, and the continuation of one aspect that's dominated their career: discretion. Instead of their complex rhythms and chord "personifications" simply basking in their own self worth, (which they could easily have done) Swans uses texture to feign simplicity in the hopes of drawing out each listener's deepest hidden emotions. There is no greater example of this than the track A Little God In My Hands; the simple drum and bass groove lures the listener in while dissonance slowly builds, not as an end unto itself, but rather to conjure a sense of panic and passion.

As time went on, the album and the sky both grew less friendly and more foreboding. Gone were the light and slightly inhibited tracks that greeted me at the beginning; now behemoths Bring The Sun Toussaint L'Ouverture and She Loves Us drew me in and overwhelmed me with anger and defiance. Michael Gira showed his incredible versatility, screaming one second while whispering the next. And he wasn't the only versatile one; each instrument expertly showed the darkness of Swan's recent work while channeling the fast abrasiveness of releases from twenty years ago.

The sky was black. Dissonant guitars soared. The forest was no longer visible; only an endless sea of darkness remained. With the majority of the album behind me, I began to reflect. It's quite evident that Michael Gira's vocals are a much more apparent force than in previous efforts. He croons, screams, or chants in every song on this release. And the result is most definitely a good thing. He doesn't use his voice as a voice, but rather an instrument. Sometimes it's a snare drum, sometimes it's Tenor Saxophone, but whatever it may be, it's always used to elevate atmosphere, dissonance, and energy to a level the band has never before been able to reach.

Eight minutes left. The moon was hiding behind a cloud. Most of my opinions about the album's strengths and lack of weaknesses had already been formed when I was greeted by the best track of the entire release. It was reminiscent of Swan's previous works, having the same restraint giving way to madness that they thrived on. Satisfied and empowered, I started walking back to my house when suddenly pandemonium broke loose. The last few minutes of the album were a prime example of how visceral, angry, and forceful yet intimate Swans can be.

Some might say that this release's repetitious, drawn out tracks cause the overall theme to be dull and uninspired, but listening to this album in the expanse of nature has shown me that the opposite is true. This album is nature itself; it's free, it's animalistic, it's beautiful. Those who would rather stay inside the house of structure and predictability are more than welcome, but it's their loss. With this release, Swans has made an epic so good it seems untouched by human hands.



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user ratings (509)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SharkTooth
May 13th 2014



3692 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice review
+1

DelPaxtonsTheMan
May 13th 2014



16 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Know that someone just put up a review of this, whatever. Criticism welcome, I know how polarizing this band is.

Digging: Secret Band - S/T

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2014



15800 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"Know that someone just put up a review of this, whatever"

dont sweat it man, there will be 25 of em by the end of the week

Digging: Synaesthesia (UK) - Synaesthesia

McMegaMountain
May 13th 2014



198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love this album. It's an experience, not a chore or a task. If you don't like it, that's fine, but definitely don't say it sucks.

(that's not directed at anyone, just stating an opinion)

hogan900
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2014



1501 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Honestly, bring the sun is top tier swans material for me. Even rivals some stuff on soundtracks for the blind. Good review too, I can't wait to see what the staff has to say about it.

Amebix
May 13th 2014



240 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

what a terrible and boring album, those 2 hours felt like 365 days in a russian prison with only bread and water and no hope for a release for another few years.
The really need to stop making CDs...how can music be so bland?

Cygnatti
May 13th 2014



21349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

where's treeqt when you need him?

Digging: The Avalanches - Since I Left You

Gwyn.
May 13th 2014



14913 Comments


Wish I knew

u heard dis?

Digging: Grief - Come to Grief

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2014



15800 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"what a terrible and boring album"

but you just 5'ed the latest Agalloch

Cygnatti
May 13th 2014



21349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"u heard dis?'

not yet, got a ratings wipe on rym so I'm gonna re-listen to tons of my rated albums to accurately re-rate before listening to more new music. x_x

adr
May 13th 2014



1804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oxygen is rly an overrated song, why the fuck this is almost everybody favourite?

Cygnatti
May 13th 2014



21349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

where's treeqt when you need him?


guess we didn't need him after all, since eric already did the honours. :x


adr
May 13th 2014



1804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i thought treeqt is a girl

hogan900
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2014



1501 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Oxygen is a really overrated song, why the fuck is it everybody's favorite? ^

hogan900
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2014



1501 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

But oxygen is actually pretty sweet.

Amebix
May 13th 2014



240 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

yes I did "5" the new Agalloch because it is an amazing multilayered avantgardish black metal album, and I gave Swans a solid 1 for being even more boring as usual which I really thought is not possible. Really wished to have the opportunity to give it a plain "ZERO"

@SeaAnomone: Thx alot for pasting my amazing taste in music, just wondring why you did not paste my "5" ratings, maybe they did not fit your statement...haha

oltnabrick
May 13th 2014



30160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hold up fam, we can 1 this now!

Digging: Miyuki - Fellow Citizen

DelPaxtonsTheMan
May 13th 2014



16 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amebix, the only reason Swans music would sound bland is because you're not reading into it enough. The production values and layering of instruments is incredible, and although it might be hard to listen to, it's anything but terrible or bland.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2014



15800 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

no way this is a 1, i dont like it that much but some of the intensity on there, the way they craft some of their pieces of music, in no way 'awful'

SeaAnemone
May 13th 2014



19755 Comments


@SeaAnomone: Thx alot for pasting my amazing taste in music, just wondring why you did not paste my "5" ratings, maybe they did not fit your statement...haha


right. you had a bunch of great 5s that I wanted to include, but your 4.5s displayed the pt of my comment really well and helped to explain why you didn't like this and let people know that they shouldn't take you srsly : ]

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation



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