Swans: My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky

Categories: Review Roundup
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Fourteen years can seem like a long time.

Believe it or not, it's been that long since New York avant garde/no wave pioneers Swans released their last studio album, Soundtracks for the Blind. The band called it quits roughly a year later in 1997 with figurehead Michael Gira letting his countless other side projects consume his time. So Swans were no more, until a January 2010 announcement on the band's MySpace page which read "SWANS ARE NOT DEAD."

It is rather easy to see Swans are not dead with My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. The album opens up with a nine-minute opus "No Words/No Thoughts," that creates an atmosphere that feels like Gira and co. never really took those 14 years off. There is an indistinguishably vintage Swans feel on My Father, but Swans' efforts are remarkable enough to usher in a new generation of eager fans -- ones that weren't around to witness the band in their heyday. Like I said, 14 years can seem like a long time -- but all that instantly vanishes when something like My Father is the reward for such diligent patience. 

What the rest of the critics are saying: 

Slant: "It's hard to think of anyone who would have the mettle to have Devendra Banhart duet with their five-year-old daughter on a track called "You Fucking People Make Me Sick," much less get away with it. It's this kind of inspired, risky brilliance that informs My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, signaling the sharp return of a group that would like you pretend they never left."

NME: "'No Words/No Thoughts', the opening track of Swans' first LP in 14 years, is
a charge into the valley of death; drums are a fusillade from either side, bells crash like broken spurs, oppressive roars of guitars are like rainclouds bursting overhead, mixing blood with mud. It, like the rest of this astonishing, febrile album, is confrontational and intense."

A.V. Club: "The full-length is the group's first since 1996, and although singer-keyboardist Jarboe is absent, Gira and longtime guitarist Norman Westberg have sired a leviathan of an album. It resembles all of Swans' previous work, yet none of it: "Reeling The Liars In" is a righteous, vindictive hymn, while "My Birth" is a crushing pulse of existential lightlessness."

Pitchfork: "This album is the antithesis of 2010's gooey let's-all-be-friends chillwave fun. The only way My Father would make sense on a beach is if nuclear winter had broken out."

My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky is out now via Young God.



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