Review Summary: Sounds like this band could become one of those unsigned titans.‘Cause it’s hard to lay arms down / In the arms of the one that lays you bare
And if we don’t shield ourselves / Then we won’t have to fear the arrows’
It’s fair to say that Raised by Swans could be placed in the league of those unsigned, unadvertised titans like the post-hardcore, mysterious gods The Pax Cecilia, Sufjan Stevens-like Freelance Whales, or, until a year and a half ago anyway, melodic death metal heroes Be’lakor. The Canadian quartet’s debut Codes and Secret Longings
in 2005 was the kind of album that few might share in secret, a treasure that a small number ever discovered. This year’s sophomore No Ghostless Place
finds the band developing their lush sound into a Clarity
-era Jimmy Eat World mixed in with a Final Straw
-aged Snow Patrol concoction of sorts. While that might sound interesting and appealing to many listeners as it stands, throw in some post-rock guitar tones in the style of Explosion In The Sky, and you have yourself something really promising.
Singer Eric Howden is able to read me like a book. Whether it’s the mournful, heartfelt tale of “Night Fighter” or the sheer bliss of pop, hit-in-the-making “Hail Of Arrows”, the front man has way with crafting a subtle, retrained happiness, or, in the case of the former, bringing me to tears with a mere suggestion. Moments of happiness are few and far in between, however, and, even though the chorus of the aforementioned “Hail Of Arrows” may be the album’s finest moment, the band opt to stay with a more restrained melancholy approach for the majority of No Ghostless Place
“Secret Garden” may simmer by unnoticed, but “Easier” picks thinks back up on a lighter, cheerful tone. Likewise, the guardian-like care heard in “By An Ion”--’When you crawl to my side / You’re like a wounded bird / With your wings weighed down / You’re somehow smaller than you were
--and the hauntingly beautiful “How Do These Hearts Unfold” give way to the docile, and as unfortunate as it may be, boring meanderings of “The Waiting’s Over”. The often shift of mediocre songs to awesome, atmospheric hits may be the most off-putting thing about No Ghostless Place
. Trimming the thirteen-song track list down to ten or eleven tracks may have just been what this album needed to truly be an underground hit.
Lines like the tantalizing plea on “The Past Is The Prey”: ’You told me I was wrong / Please tell me I’ll be wrong again,’
or on the earnest pouring of “Longer Shadows, Shorter Days”, where the Snow Patrol influence rings loudest: ‘If only I could hold your heart / I’d never beat again,’
are what make Eric and crew sound so appealing, honest, and full of promise for the future. Raised By Swans’ No Ghostless Place
sets out to appeal to a different listener altogether by shooting for, yes, the fans of alternate pop bands like Snow Patrol and Jimmy Eat World, but the Canadian quartet throw in some post-rock goodness and Cure-like atmosphere to fill in their sonic picture to keep things fresh and interesting. All they really need to do is trim down the next outing, and in doing so, Raised By Swans are sure to light up the unsigned underground.
Need To Hear:
Hail Of Arrows
We Were Never Young
How Do These Hearts Unfold
Longer Shadows, Shorter Days