Swanlights is Antony & The Johnsons’ 4th studio LP. It was released on October 12th, 2010 on Secretly Canadian.
The album opens up with Antony Hegarty crooning, in his usual soul-piercing vibrato, about everything being new on the aptly titled track “Everything Is New”. In some ways, he’s right. Though the track should have been called “A Few Things Are New But Many Things Have Stayed Exactly the Same”. All of the expected beauty is present. All of the phenomenal instrumentation by our friends The Johnsons is here with bells on. In that regard, I have no complaints. However, when Antony throws in lush, exciting songs like “I’m In Love” and the album’s first single “Thank You For Your Love”, this guy’s gonna want more. Quite unfortunately, we end up getting more moody tracks… again.
This isn’t the first album of theirs to pull the same stunts. Their last effort, 2009’s The Crying Light, drowned upbeat favorites like “Kiss My Name” and “Aeon” in slower, more depressing numbers. These depressing numbers are excellent in their own right, but they easily distract from the faster, hookier tunes where I think Antony & The Johnsons really shine. I was really hoping to hear them go a little more in that direction, really pull out the stops. Instead, they wrote the usual solemn ocean of beauty with a few whirlpools of glorious pep. I suppose there’s always next time.
Like I said, “Swanlights” is great technically, but follows the same outline as it’s predecessors to a point where it’s almost annoying. Highlights, as mentioned before, are “I’m In Love”, and “Thank You For Your Love”. I also like the title track, “Swanlights” a lot too. One thing I noticed on this disc is that the percussion is particularly on point. More so than their earlier albums. “Thank You For Your Love” is my favorite track at this point. It reminds me of Van Morrison on his best day, like something off of Moondance. Very exhuberant, very forthwith. It’s one of those songs that makes you want to dance, right now, and that, exactly that, is what I want to hear much more often from Antony & The Johnsons. Whether they know it or not… they do it well.