Review Summary: Hopefully, it won't take listeners too far up.
Before I begin the actual review of Swans' new album, I find it important to first address Michael Gira and his volumes of work throughout the years. Gira started Swans back in 1982 and led the band through a series of both critically acclaimed and average albums. Swans disbanded soon after Soundtracks for the Blind (released in 1996), which in turn left Gira wanting more. He went on to front another band known as The Angels of Light, who were successful in their own right. In 1990, he formed his own record label, Young God Records and thus began working with a whole new slew bands/projects.
Because Gira has been surrounded by music for so long, he has never really lost sight of what he strived for musically, or so it would seem. From countless interviews, Gira has stated that he has always done projects that suit him at the time. He has also said that going back to Swans was a way for him to step forward musically, so when Swans announced their new album, I was quite shocked. This band, I sort of knew but loved, was back, and supposedly in good form. When it was released, I got My Father as soon as I could and returned home to dive in… my oh my was I pleasantly surprised.
It has been fourteen years since the last Swans record (quite a while for a band to be apart) and My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky delivers their signature sound quite successfully.
Going back into the studio, I can't even begin to imagine what Swans went through in terms of getting comfortable again. However, as Gira previously stated, the revival of Swans was not to regress, but to progress; so maybe there was no trouble at all. Gira and co have accomplished this progression perfectly. My Father is a great album, an epic of sorts. It has all the original sounds Swans captured so well and it still manages to sound like a new experiment with every song. The more I listen to this album, the more I like it. Even though it is a little too grandiose and overwhelming at times, the simplistic wonders this album holds outweigh the bad ones. From the sheer amount of different soundscapes and song structures, the album definitely renders well for the ears. For example, listening to Reeling The Liars In, the song brings in many different arrangements but all of them work under a single western, almost cowboy atmosphere.
The album is definitely meant to be heard as a whole, primarily since every song seems to fade perfectly into one another. Even though Swans prove again that they can write an album consistent in sound, My Father still seems to drag at points. The songs are wholesome and plentiful, but My Father still has moments that seem like there could have been more (check out You ***ing People Make Me Sick). Paradoxically, this may sound self-contradictory; however, the album is still a joy to listen to. The best songs make me forget about any sort of boredom I may have felt prior. Honestly, I hope to hear more from Swans in the future. These guys have decided to move forward to reach new personal heights, and hopefully it will last.
If your into progressive, post-punk, or just want something new for a change, My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky is definitely worth your time. For the old fans, Swans don't disappoint here. They still hold their original aura with this album and yet they prove to be so much more. Luckily, they achieve this whilst not ruining their classic sound. On a last note, I would like to point out how well the cover art defends this albums music. When the album is given a chance, the cover will really seem to define the overall sound contained on My Father. I can't explain it, but the songs actually feel as though they are climbing up a rope into the sky. Hopefully, it won't take listeners too far up.