To Be Kind

Experimental rockers Swans have only ever had one goal: to overwhelm. Like their last sonic saga, 2012's The Seer, their latest offers two straight hours of spook-house drones, battering-ram guitar blasts and Michael Gira's howled imperatives about love, sex and death. Songs last up to 34 minutes and alternate between jazzy post-punk ragers ("Oxygen") and trippy jams plucked from the dark side of Pink Floyd ("Bring the Sun/Toussaint L'Ouverture"). Backup vocals by St. Vincent and Cold Specks provide a stylistic through line back to the shimmery 1996 LP Soundtracks for the Blind, but Gira and Co. have grown more sophisticated since then. These days, they don't just crush – they hypnotize.

From The Archives Issue 1209: May 22, 2014