By Ed Jones
Swans – The Glowing Man
Release Date: 17/07/2016
Label: Young God
Producers: Michael Gira
Singles: When Will I Return?
Over the course of Swan’s 37-year career they’ve been many things, they’ve been no-wave monsters, they’ve been weird, art-rock curios, and more recently they’ve been bluesy doomsayers. Their previous album To Be Kind, was an epic apocalyptic listen that was equal parts terrifying as well as rewarding. Their latest effort The Glowing Man tries to capture the quieter moments of To Be Kind, but a two hour + album of just the quiet parts gets quite tedious.
I’m going to try and not keep comparing this to To Be Kind, because they are quite clearly very different albums, even though they share a lot of the same DNA. However, this is the comedown after the blistering storm that came before it and it does have its moments, but the issue is, these moments are few and far between, and usually come at the tail end of a song (most songs run over 10 minutes). The majority of these songs just dirge on and on, with one or two riffs that don’t really change that much and are always backed up by the same boring ‘etherial choir’. This was fun on To Be Kind because it was used sparingly and creatively, but making a two hour album out of this is mind-crushingly dull.
It’s strange that I find myself complaining about these elements because I’m usually all for them and again, To Be Kind was full of them, but they worked on that album because it was backed up by so much more. As mentioned, there are a few moments that made me feel something other than boredom, The World Looks Black is a fairly wild ride and I liked the quiet, somber reflexivity of People Like Us. The second half of Frankie M. tells an interesting story, but the first 10 minutes do nothing to suggest this is going to be worth spending 20 minutes listening to.
Swans final album could have been a momentous occasion, but in all honesty I feel like The Glowing Man will be another forgotten entry in their back catalogue, something for mega-fans and those few people that are really weirdly into drone rock. I’ll dabble in it, but The Glowing Man leaves me cold. Swans call to a close another period of their career and unfortunately, they don’t quite end on the bang one would have hoped, but rather a whisper.