Swans
Leaving Meaning


3.1
good

Review

by Aaron W. STAFF
November 16th, 2019 | 32 replies


Release Date: 10/25/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I am not this

To be quite honest, it was difficult to figure out Leaving Meaning. Despite being a new release under the Swans canon, yet having more in common with Michael Gira's previous group The Angels of Light, this record wasn't necessarily as cryptic as previous Swans releases, nor was it as overly long, repetitive or so heavily fixated on a single riff to drive a song along. Instead, we were met with ornate, ethereal, dare I say, transcendent music. Heavily flawed, but transcendent. I admire ambition, and Gira, well known for his ambitious music, is one of the leading figures in rock music today when it comes to pushing the envelope, even if there are some who are more than eager to reject this notion or hesitate to acknowledge it. For the past decade, Swans have done exactly that - push the envelope, reaching the very limits of what does and does not work in a song, exhausting a singular motif to the utmost degree; but as heard on Leaving Meaning., the first of this new era, this has all been cast away for the most part, returning to more concise (by their current standards) and gentle songwriting and composition. However, with what has come to fruition on their latest offering, an effort rife with songs that ebb and flow, unwind, and are left with room to breathe, it is brought down significantly by refusing to change things up and make it intriguing as well. This is evident even with a stellar track like "It's Coming It's Real" enticing people with its gothic mystique in the lead-up to Leaving Meaning.'s unveiling.

There was an admirable attempt in the absurd no wave throwback finale "My Phantom Limb" and the much-hyped "Sunfucker," but it simply isn't enough to shake the feeling that you've heard some of these songs before. Whether it be due to fact that many of these songs are far too similar to one another or ultimately just don't make significant enough progress to merit such a drawn-out listen, Leaving Meaning. doesn't exactly fail to get to the point. For a matter of fact, it gets to it far faster than any other Swans album since 2010's My Father, but in doing so, it fails to come across as a necessarily important album. In reality, it's a transitional record, one that only teases at the possibilities that lie in wait for the band and its fans in the coming decade, whether it means to continue in this direction, or if it results in something wildly different a few years down the line. In spite of my own misgivings towards Leaving Meaning., it is an admirable effort that doesn't tell us much about what the future has in store, but to make people aware that Swans aren't quite dead...yet.



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user ratings (186)
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
SandwichBubble (3)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


19215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1

would edit this review but unsurprisingly, the editing page is broke



It's Coming It's Real https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZVZo30M8Lc

SandwichBubble
November 16th 2019


10640 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Here you go: https://www.sputnikmusic.com/editreviews.php?reviewid=80523



Future reference, just copy-paste this link and replace the number at the end to edit that review.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


19215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1

well shit, you learn something new every day

thanks

Gallantin
November 16th 2019


841 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Best Swans

beefshoes
November 16th 2019


7610 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Haven't revisited this since the first full listen, but it's definitely the least impressive album that they've done in nearly 30 years. It has its moments for sure, but as an album with the length that it has, it's generally dull by Swans' standard.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


4917 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

70-75 minutes would've been enough for this to be another excellent listen. I agree with your review, nevertheless, it has some awesome tracks. It's easy to let Gira get away with this mostly due to the '10s catalog.

Digging: Lionize - Panic Attack!

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


19215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1

70 would've been just right. Cut Cathedrals of Heaven, The Hanging Man and Some New Things and I'd say this is easily better than The Glowing Man, at least.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


4917 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Some New Things is one of my favorites here haha.

Pangea
November 16th 2019


3275 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

the hanging man is great. i wouldn't cut that one

Digging: Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket - Det Onda. Det Goda. Det Vackra. Det Fula.

Junkered
November 16th 2019


12 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This one grew on me quite a bit since I first heard it. Weakest cut probably goes to Cathedrals of Heaven or The Nub, but other than that, a solid album.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


18878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

Good review Fripp, pretty much feel the same about this album myself. Least impressive they've done since before CoG. This could match Glowing Man's greatness if you Lose Sunf'r, Phantom Limb, Amnesia, and Some New Things imo

Digging: No-Man - Love You To Bits

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2019


19215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1

Sunfucker is salvageable just for the ending, and Amnesia is, well, Amnesia. No sense in cutting a reimagining of a classic.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2019


18878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

They'd both maybe be salvageable if they were instrumental.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2019


19215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1

there'd be no point in them being there if that were the case

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2019


18878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

Why is that?

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2019


19215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1

I see it in a way that the way those songs are put together that they just wouldn't work instrumentally. I couldn't imagine the ending of Sunfucker with Jennifer Gira being just instrumental. Amnesia, well, that could theoretically work, but if that were the case, it'd just be better off being cut. We already have one instrumental on here and it's just padding.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2019


18878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

The second half of Sunf'er I actually think is pretty good. I'm just not a fan of the singing in the first half of the song, or the AMNEEEESSSSSIIIIA part in Amnesia.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2019


19215 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1

Oh yeah, I'm not really too big on the first half of SFCKR but once it hits, it just keeps going. If it was condensed down to maybe 6:30/7 mins, it'd be one of the better songs on the album but 11 minutes of "BEEEEEWAAAAAREEEEE" and all that hubbub wasn't doing it for me.

Wizard
November 20th 2019


20234 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Your review sums up my thoughts. However, this does contain the track 'Leaving Meaning' which in my humble opinion is one of his best songs to date. The fluttering keys, the hummable melody....love cruising to it.

NJeroen
November 21st 2019


117 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I fully agree with this review. There are some great songs on this, but generally it's much more underwhelming than their previous releases. Too bad because I really liked The Seer, To Be Kind and The Glowing Man.



Not saying that they should've gone for the same approach once again, but few songs on here have the momentum and build-up that for example the title track 'Leaving Meaning' has. The style that they're going for here is fine, but it could've been so much better...



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