Album Review – Antony and The Johnsons – Swanlights

7 Oct

Oh, Antony.  You are so very…eclectic.  And how kind of you to release two albums within two years.  That was quite thoughtful.  Then you allow it to be streamed on NPR?  You saint.  And even though you sort of look like a member of Slipknot now, I still believe the only fair thing to do at this point is to review this new album.  Which I shall do…now.

Antony’s music is just something I naturally like.  Usually I’d be put off by the voice, but something about the way he uses his voice and the music that accompanies it kept dragging me back to 2009’s The Crying Light. Here, Antony has produced another volume of work equal to, if not superior than the last.

On the album opener, Antony emotes “everything is new, ” but not really.  The same passion is there and the beautiful orchestrations that accompany it.  That orchestra takes center stage on this record, while Antony’s vocals back off a bit using his voice more as another instrument rather than truly singing.

Highlights of the album include “I’m in Love” which manages to be upbeat in the sea of melancholy that is the first half of this album.  I was afraid that emotion would bog the work down, but the album really lightens as it goes along.  The track itself is a highlight of something this band is able to do quite well, conveying an emotion through the use of the music.  Here it’s a flute I believe used to denote the carefree emotions accompanying that feeling of being  in love.  From the vocals to the instrumentation, just every facet of this song feels happy.   And then on the *almost* very next track (the title track), he uses these same tools and effects to convey a sense of foreboding and fear that comes across just as clearly.  Menacingly so.

The man even brought in big band elements for “Thank You For Your Love.”  Seriously, this has to be his most accessible record by far.  Funny enough, this also is the song that features his vocals most heavily.  And while I’m heaping on the praise, honestly, could there have been a better idea for a duet than Antony and Bjork?  truly, this album has everything.

Because this is not, however, my favorite album of the year, there has to be a few downsides (ok, even my favorite album of the year has downsides).  While the album has an overall set of quality tracks, it’s missing a clear highlight like last year’s “Aeon”.  This is a bit detrimental to the album, because I know, for me personally, that song was the reason I kept coming back to The Crying Light.  But it’s really only a minor set-back.

Aside from the possibility of becoming derivative if this sound continues, Swanlights is itself a beautiful work of art.  While I’m not prepared to choose a favorite yet amongst the two works, Swanlights is placing higher on my 2010 list than The Crying Light did on 2009’s.  Read into that what you will.

Rating: 8.75/10

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One Response to “Album Review – Antony and The Johnsons – Swanlights”

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  1. Tweets that mention Album Review – Antony and The Johnsons – Swanlights « An Ocean of Noise -- Topsy.com - 07/10/2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ocean Noise, Ashley Wantland. Ashley Wantland said: Album Review – Antony & The Johnsons – Swanlights: http://wp.me/pI73I-bJ […]

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