A review of the Swans album To Be Kind.
Seminal No-wave rockers Swans are the brainchild of guitarist Michael Gira, whose work falls somewhere in between the grit and edge of Sonic Youth and the avant-garde pop of Velvet Underground. They’re back with their 2014 effort, To Be Kind, an album is a collection of 2 records, showcasing different characteristics but many common connections.
All the tracks have a drone-like quality to them, with riffs, vocal lines and melodies repeating almost obsessively, adding to a very dark atmosphere. The first half of the album is more introspective, quiet and melancholic, while the second disc offers loud, distorted guitars, monolithic riffs and aggressive hooks.
It’s a very interesting concept that brings the band to explore different settings and ideas. The concept of "repetition" is key to the album: moving through the static, doing something different, while apparently doing the same thing all over again. This is how the songs evolve, morphing into one another or simply breaking out, ending in a completely different way from the way the started.