Swans
Love of Life


4.0
excellent

Review

by Brendan M. USER (35 Reviews)
June 25th, 2014 | 19 replies


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Swans essentially deliver White Light part two, as well as their most flat out gothic record to date.

The musical career of Swans is an anomaly, to put it lightly. I don't think there are too many albums in their vast discography that sound truly similar, at least in the way most other bands tend to do things. While you could compare certain records to one another in their catalog, it’s quite rare that more than two of their records will sound similar. Because of this, there were probably a lot of fans that felt alienated as the band progressed further into softer, more melodic territory on only their third album. As the evolution kept going, they were becoming more and more folky, gothic, and epic as well, which was quite different than the brutal beginnings of albums such as Filth. While they hit a few bumps along the way, as to be expected, this era is where most of their masterpieces were made. So, after the grand, symphonic masterpiece of White Light From the Mouth of Infinity, we were given Love of Life, which is a quite interesting point in the band’s career.

Starting from the point when Jarboe joined the group, Swans were slowly moving further and further into gothic rock territory. Albums such as Cop were dominated by crawling riffs, Michael Gira’s disgusting vocals, and absolutely gigantic walls of noise. Starting from Greed though, Swans began incorporating more and more folk influences, beautiful vocals delivered by Jarboe, and less focus on pounding the listener into submission, and more focus on creating a hypnotic experience. While they stumbled on this a few times, they created a masterpiece with Children of God while in this phase of their career, but then they took a sudden turn. Out came The Burning World, which was a poppy, folky album that felt quite familiar compared to the rest of Swans discography, despite being something we hadn’t heard the Swans do. But, they quickly got back on track with White Light From the Mouth of Infinity, which was a hypnotic, symphonic, and gothic masterpiece of an album. As for Love of Life, it could best be described as the closest Swans ever came to making gothic rock.

I wouldn’t hesitate to call Love of Life the second part to White Light, for a variety of reasons. At this point in their career, Swans were shifting into the most accessible form they would probably ever become, besides The Burning World. The Great Annihilator is perhaps the peak of this sound, but certain songs on this record sound very prototypical of the sound that would later be incorporated on their next effort. Take for example “The Other Side of the World”; this could probably fit onto The Great Annihilator, but it could equally fit onto White Light. Lots of these songs will incorporate the same accessible structures of Annihilator, but at the same time include the orchestral instrumentation of White Light. On top of that, songs such as “Amnesia”, the title track, and “God Loves America” almost sound like gothic pioneers the Cure. They feature the walls of synths, the gothic crooning, the tribal drumming of Joy Division, and the beautifully dark atmosphere, all things that could be recognized from Pornography or Disintegration.

Now, while it’s easily the most traditionally gothic Swans record, that’s where the album kind of falters. Occasionally, the instrumentation or songwriting will sound a bit derivative, almost imitative of certain gothic acts, such as the aforementioned Cure. While it certainly has the sound of Swans, with samples and Jarboe’s voice in particular, a large chunk of the ideas in here feel like they were borrowed from various gothic acts such as Joy Division, the Cure, and the Smiths. Also worth mentioning is the fact that every two or three songs, they feel the need to include at least one interlude under the name of “(---)” for some odd reason. Occasionally, they will work quite well as a break between songs, but other times they just feel like filler.

So overall, Swans have basically delivered White Light part two. Now, this isn’t a bad thing in any sense, but unfortunately some of the ideas seem blatantly taken from other acts. There’s no need to mention them again, but occasionally songs will sound strikingly similar to their gothic peers, which is both good and bad. Other than being White Light part two though, it could also be described as the bridge between the epic White Light and the more accessible Great Annihilator. So, this is an album that is deservedly underrated, but it’s still a very satisfying listen in the end.



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user ratings (147)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
BMDrummer
June 24th 2014


7689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Figured I'd put this up now, so let me know how I did. Sorry Grandpa Seth

Digging: Shellac - Dude Incredible

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
June 24th 2014


5970 Comments


that artwork damn

Digging: Aphex Twin - Syro

BMDrummer
June 24th 2014


7689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

It's brutal

jtswope
June 24th 2014


2204 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

White Light is so amazing, and even though this isn't as good overall, it still has some of their best songs from this era.

BMDrummer
June 24th 2014


7689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

RAH RAH RAH .... RAAAAAAHHH

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
June 24th 2014


5970 Comments


Good review, pos'd, but could use some text trimming here and there and some of the points you make
get kind of repetitive. But very nice job overall, this needed a review.

BMDrummer
June 24th 2014


7689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Next will be Holy Money most likely, or Captain Beefheart's Strictly Personal, but it's really hard to write a Beefheart review for some reason

SPRFanOf5H
June 24th 2014


232 Comments


Well done Brendan, very good review man. Definitely a pos here, checking this out.

BMDrummer
June 24th 2014


7689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'll warn you now, this is long out of print, so I had to scrounge one

InbredJed
June 25th 2014


5917 Comments


you continue to amaze me man, how do you plan to stay humble?

Digging: JJ Cale - Okie

ExplosiveOranges
June 26th 2014


2816 Comments


Solid review is solid.

Digging: Electric Wizard - Time to Die

Supercoolguy64
August 19th 2014


1727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

White Light is the better record overall, but Love of Light has superior cover art

Digging: Jeromes Dream - Seeing Means More Than Safety

BMDrummer
August 19th 2014


7689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

agreed, this one isn't as unique as White Light

Supercoolguy64
August 19th 2014


1727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just has a ton of useless filler. Although the ones with Michael's dad in it are cool

BMDrummer
August 19th 2014


7689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yeah pretty much, Amnesia and the title track rule best

Supercoolguy64
August 19th 2014


1727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

amnesia has a nice groove to it.

DarthMann
August 19th 2014


13815 Comments


i need to 'acquire' this

Supercoolguy64
August 19th 2014


1727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

if only it was still in print...or at the least on iTunes

BMDrummer
August 19th 2014


7689 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i emailed young god about a reissue a month ago, they said they'd do it after Filth



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