Sunday, November 26, 2006
Swan Lake--Beast Moans (New!)
Release Date-Nov 21, 2006
Biography-Indie rock supergroup Swan Lake features Dan Bejar, Spencer Krug, and Carey Mercer. The collaboration among the three musician friends was a long time in the making; Krug, also of Wolf Parade, has worked on and off with Mercer's Frog Eyes for years, and both are former roommates. Bejar called upon Frog Eyes to be his backing band while recording Destroyer's 2005 opus, Your Blues. Together, they also recorded new versions of songs from Your Blues entitled Notorious Lightning and Other Works. Before 2005 came to a close, the three musicians dismantled their temporary name, "the Songwriters Project," and christened themselves Swan Lake. Their self-produced debut album, Beast Moans, arrived on Jagjaguwar in November 2006.
Review-Canada has certainly been the hot spot for indie bands in the new millennium, so the fact that the singers from three of the biggest (Dan Bejar from Destroyer, Spencer Krug from Wolf Parade, and Carey Mercer from Frog Eyes) came together in Swan Lake has been — while perhaps not much of a surprise (the idea of a "collective" being quite a popular idea up north, coupled with the fact that the three have been working together in some form or another for the past few years) — enough to thoroughly excite the hipsters, who, anxiously awaiting its release, were forced to sustain themselves on the two songs, "All Fires" and "City Calls," from on the group's MySpace site. Fortunately, Beast Moans should thoroughly satisfy these malnourished fans. As a group, Swan Lake writes songs that have more cacophony and less form than what any of the three writers produced individually: they have structure, but it's a structure based on how the layers define it instead of how the structure defines the layers. In "A Venue Called Rubella," for example, keys and guitars play their own rhythms with little regard for what the others are doing while the singers' indie-English-accented voices spout vaguely postmodern and often undecipherable lyrics. Esotericism seems to be an intended goal ("I called your name in verse/To the masked poled opponents of partisans and sentiments and cake-holed second verse," Bejar sings in the new wavey "The Partisan But He's Got to Know"), and the listener's comprehension is not helped by the fact that the vocals are frequently mixed at such a low level that actual words are difficult to pick out. Still, amid the meandering melodies and distraught guitar lines there's something to grab onto, a warmth, a sense of purpose, like the Shins-esque (specifically "Caring Is Creepy") "Are You Swimming in Her Pools?" or the Western feel of "The Pollinated Girls" or the quiet melancholy of "All Fires," and the album comes together into something cohesive and enjoyable. With Beast Moans, Swan Lake has married the talent and off-kilter intelligence of all three of its members with something more abstract, more visceral, something that sets it apart from all of their individual work, and gives the indie rock world another reason to fawn over Canada.
(This is the first time I use this file-hostor, please let me know your comments about it. Thanks!)