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Swan King, The: Last So Long

I know that I always grouse about genre labels. I also know that my complaining doesn't do any good. I just like to think about how crazy names are, you know? Anyway, The Swan King is a post-hardcore band (whatever that means exactly) out of Chicago that also features members of Pelican and Planes Mistaken for Stars.

The best songs on this album are the urgent ones, the anxious ones that sound like they can't move quite fast enough through the main riffs. Take "Returning to Haunt," for example: here's a track that just moves restlessly forward, like an angry ghost in the first stages of securing a home and scaring its residents. The song never stays still, pushing its way forward and grabbing attention. It's that agitated drive that makes this music connect to hardcore.

"As It Is," another standout track, has a similar vibe to "Returning to Haunt." To my ears, these two tracks are complementary; they both build on a restless, anxious, riff that pushes itself ever forward until the end. They also both introduce slightly higher pitched notes into the riffs whereas most of the other songs have a lower register. I'm sure that doesn't mean much, but I thought it was cool the way these songs synched up. "Built to Break," the longest song, is slightly slower in tempo but no less restless in spirit. Be sure to check out the especially killer riff that shows up about half-way through this one. As I write this, I've got that track playing on repeat. I not only loved the music on this one, but also found the lyrics to be the perfect companion to the sound, especially the simple truth of the line "we are all built to break." Music like this does such a good job of reminding us about the fragility of life. See also the title track "Last So Long" for a similar musical theme. I don't know all the lyrics here, but my impression is that this album is reflecting quite a bit on loss, regret, death, and life.

This is a strong album, one that looks back both to heavy rock and to traditional hardcore, all the while keeping its gaze fixed on whatever we think the present looks like.

Track Listing:
1. Explore the Void
2. At Who's Expense
3. Closer to the Source
4. The Same Result
5. Built to Break
6. Returning to Haunt
7. Last So Long
8. As It Is

Added: July 15th 2014
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1399
Language: english

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