Review Summary: Close, but not quite.
I can honestly say that, over the last few years especially, The Plot In You’s discography (primarily Happiness in Self Destruction
, naturally) and Landon Tewers’ solo outings have both been a source of immense catharsis for me. There’s just something about the way in which Tewers serves up his own personal wealth of inner demons, with such a brutally uncompromising manner, that it cannot help but captivate my attention. I listen to the borderline unhinged delivery of ”maybe it’s just me and I can’t see, I’m hurting everyone that found me”
on ‘Hole in the Wall’, or the blunt admission of ‘Sick Obsession’s ”I can’t escape these feelings, can’t seem to clear my head”
, and I feel something. I feel a lot of things, actually. While the likes of ‘Take Me Away’ beautifully details the emotional hurricane of losing a paternal figure, Landon Tewers has garnered something of a personal reputation – and one that isn’t entirely flattering.
For starters, Tewers’ lyrical choices are downright questionable at times, often leaving an uncomfortable taste in the back of your throat while attempting to digest such examples as “she thinks of me when she’s fucking you, I own you bitch and yeah you know it’s true”
, or “feeling risky like a smoker with a bloody cough, you look like you could use a violent fuck”
. If you haven’t noticed yet, touching on the subjects of violence, sex and depression (or the troubling combination or all three) aren’t exactly what you’d consider no-go areas for Landon Tewers. There have been numerous statements made regarding the vocalist, both artistically and behind the curtain, and plenty of such statements paint Tewers in a very
questionable light; one that he himself appears to be fully aware of. Take ‘Savage’s closing statement of ”I’m a demon, I’m a snake – walking disaster, I’m a mistake”
, for example, or perhaps ‘Pillhead’s venomous reflection ”don’t get too close, I’ve been known to manipulate”
. These aren’t glowing declarations that highlight Tewers in a positive fashion, and in a lot of ways this is what makes Landon Tewers such a fascinatingly captivating individual, with every performance appearing to be one soaked in either guilt, self-loathing, boastful arrogance, or vicious hatred.
So, with all this in mind, where does The Plot In You’s latest effort fit in? Dispose
isn’t exactly held in high standing, and most casual listeners will happily disregard Could You Watch Your Children Burn
and First Born
in favour of Happiness in Self Destruction
, and it’s not like Landon Tewers hasn’t been pumping out solo effort after (mostly solid) solo effort for the last half a decade… so is Swan Song
Well, at times it’s honestly hard to say yes.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some excellent material here. While Dispose
was a flawed, mixed bag of an album, Swan Song
is at least a superior record in almost every regard. ‘Paradigm’ continues the inclusion of electronic elements into the band’s sound that was first initiated by Dispose
, the glitchy distortions and stabbing synthesizers rippling throughout the track whilst Tewers’ & Company deliver an energetic blast of reinvigorated metalcore, whereas ‘Enemy’s menacing creep from an eerie, atmospheric introduction into sludgy, slamming instrumentals proves to be the exact kind of white-knuckle aggression that Dispose
was so sorely lacking – in particular throughout the bridge, in which Tewers’ delivers some of the most vicious screams of his recent career. Elsewhere, the penultimate ‘Whole Without Me’ also gladly presents a similar progression, gradually building from scattered electronic aesthetics and subtle introductory bass, to then chugging guitars and gnarly percussion. The track continues to garner momentum until at last reaching a monstrous climax with Tewers’ screams blasting through the mix spectacularly – yet, it almost pales
in comparison with finale ‘Freed’, a track that perfectly toes the line between exquisite, euphoric instrumentals to pure, seething rage. It’s a superb closing moment for the album and finishes Swan Song
on an undeniable high… but the only problem is that a lot
of the record just doesn’t quite live up to such a finale.
Now don’t get me wrong (again), there’s nothing inherently bad
here; the production throughout is a blatant improvement over Dispose
(even if the drums do sound a little muddy), and there’s not a single moment that Tewers himself seems to drop the ball vocally, even if some of the lyrics could have done with some work (see; ‘Born to Blame’). Yet, while I find it somewhat hard to outright criticize Swan Song
, I also find myself realising more and more that I simply don’t care
about a lot of it… and that’s extremely disappointing. Both ‘Fall Again’ and ‘Face Me’ see the band delivering hard hitting material, but the sudden shift from gentler instrumentals to the heavier side of things can occasionally feel jarring, with nothing truly clicking together or offering any real groove – whereas the less aggressive cuts ‘Too Far Gone’ and ‘Too Heavy’ both come across as lacklustre, and it’s with an uncomfortable realisation at how outright disengaged
the album feels at times that Swan Song
’s lowest points are offered.
And, ultimately, this is the album’s greatest weakness. Swan Song
as a whole is desperately lacking in memorability. It feels disconnected at certain points, as if the band is running on autopilot whilst Tewers’ belts his fucking heart out no matter how good the material actually is. True, Landon Tewers is still an excellent vocalist and the majority of the lyrics throughout Swan Song
are solid, but the lack of identity within the instrumentals has always been something of an Achilles heel for The Plot In You – even as far back as Happiness in Self Destruction
. There’s not a single genuinely memorable guitar riff or melody to be found here, and (if truth is bluntly told) half of the songs featured on Swan Song
are borderline forgettable as soon as you move on from one track to the next. Sure, they’re enjoyable enough in the moment and you’ll have fun catching the ride, especially throughout ‘Enemy’, ‘Freed’ and ‘Whole Without Me’, but it’s a ride that unfortunately carries far less memorability compared to the likes of Happiness in Self Destruction