SWANS — To Be Kind

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SWANS - To Be Kind cover
3.87 | 9 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2014

Filed under Non-Metal


CD 1:

1. Screen Shot (08:04)
2. Just A Little Boy (For Chester Burnett) (12:39)
3. A Little God In My Hands (07:08)
4. Bring The Sun/Toussaint L'Ouverture (34:05)
5. Some Things We Do (05:09)

CD 2:

1. She Loves Us (17:00)
2. Kirsten Supine (10:32)
3. Oxygen (07:59)
4. Nathalie Neal (10:14)
5. To Be Kind (08:22)

Total Time 121:12


1. To Be Kind (20:41)
2. Just A Little Boy (10:06)
3. Coward (08:36)
4. She Loves Us (18:17)
5. Oxygen (07:17)
6. The Seer / Toussaint L'Ouverture (45:35)

Total Time 110:32


- Michael Gira / vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, production
- Christoph Hahn / lap steel guitars, electric guitar, vocals
- Thor Harris / drums, percussion, vibes and bells, wind instruments, handmade viola, vocals
- Christopher Pravdica / bass guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Phil Puleo / drums, percussion, dulcimer, piano, keys, vocals
- Norman Westberg / electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals

Guest musicians:
- Bill Rieflin / additional drums and percussion, synthesizer, piano, electric guitar, bass, keyboards
- Al Spx / background vocals on "Bring the Sun"
- Little Annie / vocals on "Some Things We Do"
- Julia Kent / strings and string arrangement on "Some Things We Do"
- St. Vincent / background vocals on "Nathalie Neal", "Bring the Sun", "Screen Shot", "Kirsten Supine"
- Jennifer Church / background vocals on "She Loves Us", "A Little God in My Hands"
- Daniel Hart / violin
- Rex Emerson / mandolin
- David Pierce / trombone
- Evan Weiss / trumpet
- Sean Kirkpatrick / piano, harpsichord, synth
- John Congleton / piano

About this release

2CD, 2CD/DVD, digital and 12" vinyl 3LP released 13th May 2014 on (STUMM364) / Young God Records (YG46).

12" vinyl 3LP released 2019 on Mute (STUMM364) / Young God Records (YG46).

Thanks to arcane-beautiful for the addition and tupan, Bosh66 for the updates

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Eh, I'm not sure about this one. It isn't bad - of course it isn't, this is late-period Swans here - but much of it seems to lack a certain Swans something. The band seem to draw on the influence of Godspeed You Black Emperor here and there - see in particular the climax of Nathalie Neal - and whilst for the most part that is a good thing, it does make this a disorienting listen. And two hours is probably too long by far, the band showing little willingness to actually edit down their material to tease out the successful parts and rework the limp bits.
Swans are a band that I've let fly past me these past few years. Now don't blame me personally, it's just I have a mixed opinion about Pitchfork relate artists or hipster worthy bands (sometimes they are a bit too much style and not enough music). So after all this time, I have decided to give this band a chance. And of course, I'm glad I have.

If I had to describe this band to anyone, the best way to sum them up would be if The Velvet Underground where to jam with Captain Beefheart and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. The band also have a rather Pixies take to their music, with a big focus on the loud and quiet dynamic of their music. The band have a brilliant ability of being able to take minimalist riffs and ideas, yet building upon them into big climaxes or to something completely different entirely.

While the album is mainly music, one thing I really love about this album is that the lyrics are very simple and almost mono syllabic at times. While the songs titles and music already paint a picture in your head, the lyrics are almost their to portray instantaneous emotions rather than telling actual stories.

The opening track “Screen Shot” is a brilliant example of what the band can do. With a soft start and a climactic build up, the soft to hard style of the bands classic stuff is shown. Brilliant start to the album.

“A Little God In My Hands” is another personal favorite of mine. The best way to describe this song is if the Pixies where to jam with Captain Beefheart and Current 93. A brilliant track with some absolutely brilliant vocals from Michael, showing off some insane vocals.

The album's longest track and the bands longest song to date, “Bring The Sun/Touissant L'Ouverture” is a massive piece of music. A multi layered and multi parted track, the song goes through a lot of different feelings and emotions. Starting off with a post metal opening and going into a psychedelic jam, it then explodes into a noisy chasm and then moves into a slow jam with Michael shouting and raving in both French and Spanish. Now, being over a half an hour long, I do believe that this song is pushing it a little bit, but I still think the experience of this track is a rollercoaster that is an interesting experience nontheless.

The album's second longest track “She Loves Us” is another interesting moment on the album. The song being rather slow in nature at first, it then explodes into a sonic wall with Michael screaming over the music with overly sexual suggested lyrics. Mad as a hatter, but it perfectly fits with the chaotic nature of the album.

One of my personal favorite tracks on the album has to be “Kirsten Supine.” Taking influence from Lars Von Trier's film “Melancholia”, the song shows of some rather delicate yet explosive sounds, very much like the film it was inspired by.

My favorite track on the album has to be “Oxygen.” With a mad mash of different rhythms throughout and some incredibly insane vocals from Michael. For some reason I am getting a Smashing Pumpkins vibe from this track, especially with the breakdowns with only vocals and drums.

The title track which ends off the album is an interesting anti folk influenced sonic build up. Some lovely instrumental work on this track showing off some of Swans instrumental technique, before becoming more dark and twisted near the end of the track.

In conclusion, this album shows off the bands styles and sounds in ways which have bettered their previous releases. While some songs may be a bit too lengthy and outstay their welcome a tad too much,, you can't deny that journey that some of these tracks take you on. A good example of a long double album not being exceedingly boring. These guys will always excite.


Genres: Experimental Rock, Noise Rock, Avant Garde Rock, RIO, Post Metal, Avant Garde Metal, Post Rock, Anti Folk, Art Rock, Progressive Rock

Country of origin: USA

Year of release: 2014

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