Review Summary: Tossing and turning.
It’s surprising how little credit is given to album titles. Maybe it’s fitting, as though the music should speak for itself and the album title is just an obligatory jumble of words slapped on the cover as an afterthought. However, it often adds another dimension to how you can interpret the overall structure of the album, be it lyrical or strictly musical or whatever. All of this is basically a set-up for how suitable Sway
is as a heading for Whirr’s latest release. You could envision the motion of moving back and forth in a dimly lit room in the embrace of a loved one, or the unsightly movement of someone at the end of a noose. The title's so vague it should barely warrant a second thought. Is this completely irrelevant" Say what you will, but it coincides perfectly with Whirr’s approach on Sway
Whirr’s sound is dreamlike, and can be fleeting indeed, leaving mixed feelings and persistent afterthoughts. Here’s a personal comparison for your pleasure: I have a tendency to overanalyze my dreams, and pick at irrelevant little details that shouldn’t even be acknowledged in the first place. I’m all too aware of this, but these thoughts still persist. Amidst the hazy, sedated ambience there are little nuances that poke and pry, leaving the grand picture stifled. For those of you who have a difficult time remembering what actually happened
in your dream, but remember the logo on the fu
cking hat some guy was wearing - or some equally pointless object - you’ll understand what I’m getting at.
Equating Whirr’s overall sound with a lucid dream is a given, and not dissimilar to just about any shoegazey band you’ve heard, but that’s not the end of it. Sway
is easily the gloomiest album in the Whirr discography, but has its share of hard hitting moments. "Press" is the highest energy track on the album, and is an odd choice for an album opener. The following tracks tend to ride in its wake, drifting in and out of consciousness amidst the tempest. An unsettling tone develops, and permeates long after the album is over, while encroaching on the imprint of the actual album itself - speaking in terms of actual structure… I’ll elaborate. After listening to Sway
multiple times, I am still unsure, retrospectively, what the hell I actually heard. It’s the kind of album you are aware of while experiencing it - like a dream (an analogy so brilliant I had to repeat it) - but becomes obscured afterwards.
Unlike their previous release, Pipe Dreams
, the after-effect is dreary. Sway
is devoid of female vocals, which affects the sound tremendously. Where Pipe Dreams
was occasionally angelic, so that the listener felt comfort amidst the chaos, Sway
has a tone that wanders with uncertainty and discomfort. The instrumentals are intense, but are slowed in a manner akin to jogging through waist-deep water. “Clear” exemplifies this. All of the elements are filtered through a slogging trance, and the lyrics display an urge to make sense of everything to no avail. That’s what it all boils down to. Sway
will never truly satisfy you, and that's okay. As you repeatedly listen, searching for some form of clarity, you will inevitably come up empty handed. It’s punishing, frustrating, yet ultimately euphoric. It’s worth losing a bit of sleep over.