Antony And The Johnsons – Swanlights (Rough Trade) 11/10/2010

October 14, 2010 by  

‘Everything is new’ are the first words muttered on this album, and whilst that may not be entirely true, ’Swanlights’ certainly has a different feel to it than Antony and the Johnsons’ previous work. Coming less than two years after ‘The Crying Light’, it seems Antony Hegarty has a new found optimism, and whilst still a delicate and fluttering affair, the songs here are more uplifting.

On ‘I’m In Love’ and ‘Thank You For Your Love’, two stunning tracks with an obvious connection, Hegarty delivers assured vocals and even sounds happy, highlighting his slight but definite change in attitude both musically and, it seems, personally. ‘Thank You’ even has a stomping, trumpet led sing-along feel to it by the end. Sometimes though, his vocals are still drenched in uncertainty. Indeed, on the previously mentioned opening track, Hegarty sounds fragile, full of innocence and wonder, as though he is questioning the very meaning of his words amid his unfamiliarly bright outlook.

Even when the lyrics are scattered with the dark haunting imagery we have come to expect from him, Hegarty employs a luscious string section to give it the uplifting air which accompanies his piano playing.

There is no massive departure here, Antony and the Johnsons are an acquired taste. Hegarty must tread carefully when it comes to progressing his music, he needs to cater for his fans whilst still exploring new ground. It seems that maybe falling in love was exactly what he needed, as it has breathed new life into his music and rather than creating a new sound, has created a simple change in approach. It’s not the first time love has had this effect on an artists work, and it won’t be the last. Just don’t expect a cover album of love song standards from Antony and the Johnsons.

[rating:3.5]


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