Swans - To Be Kind

Friends, I have a deep confession to make.

I made the unfortunate error in thinking that Swans could not possibly improve upon the delicately heavy and tormented sound of The Seer. I must now admit that I was wrong - in fact, I could not have been more mistaken. As much as I love The Seer in all that it truly is, To Be Kind is vastly superior in just about every way.

Once upon a time, I loved Swans, but The Seer was the first album of theirs in ages that I actually gave a fuck about. I know everyone loves Soundtracks for the Blind, but it never struck a chord with me. The last Swans album that I could be bothered to listen to again and again was probably The Burning World, which came out in the late 80s, if I remember correctly.

Therein lies the origin of the error of my thinking.

When The Seer came out, it was like reopening that window of my life - I was free to love Swans again! Not that it sounded anything like the Swans of old that I loved so; it was a new sound, but still true to what I felt Michael Gira was always getting at. Therefore, the album made so much sense to me, and I felt that it was probably the zenith of this "new" Swans. I put it on such a high pedestal - a throne, if you will - that logic declared that any follow-up would pale in comparison to the majesty of The Seer.

I was so very wrong, and so happy that I was. To Be Kind is a far superior record. This should not take The Seer off of its very high pedestal, because it surely deserves its place there. This just goes to show that none of us should ever feel comfortable in thinking that Gira doesn't have something new up his sleeve, or that he's achieved everything of note that he ever will. The songs on To Be Kind are vintage Swans - slow, heavy, and subtly discordant, and are possessed of a spirit that energizes AND enervates the listener. That being said, it is still something of a relaxing record. I realize that sort of makes no sense - when does anyone ever relax while listening to Swans? They've always been so physically jarring and uncomfortable, right? Well, something about this record sound just a tiny bit playful. I'd like to explain it further, but I will refrain. I fear I've said enough, or too much, already.

So this is something that you should get on ASAP. Perhaps I'm late to the party, I really don't know what people in general have said about the album, but for my money, it's a damn celebration. Pick it up now in one or more of its multiple forms here, at Young God Records.


Sigivald said...

I realize that sort of makes no sense - when does anyone ever relax while listening to Swans?

I dunno, I can relax fairly well to White Light-Great Annihilator-era Swans.

Not exactly "deep chill" relaxing, but not jarring and uncomfortable.

(Oddly, despite my general love of discordant, noisy music and early industrial, I've never liked that era of Swans output...)

Tammy said...

It's always nice when a band grows, surpassing even their greatest work.