Antony and the Johnsons: Swanlight (Spunk)

 |   |  1 min read

Antony and the Johnsons: Swanlights
Antony and the Johnsons: Swanlight (Spunk)

This fourth album by Antony confirms what many already suspect, that a little of this divine, sublime voice can go a long way. All that high drama and quivering vocals, the allusive lyrics, the symphonic strings . . . It's all high-wire emotion and, as with Rufus Wainwright's All Days Are Nights, over the long haul it becomes demanding and undifferentiated.

To his credit however Antony appreciates that and mixes things up a little here: the gentle Great White Ocean is as close as he has come to a simple, understated pop ballad; there are backwards guitars and discordant intro to the fascinating, ambient and slightly-delic title track; Ghost is dramatically underpinned by a minimalist-like piano figure; and the final seven minute-plus Christina's Farm is gorgeous, heart-stopping reverie over gentle piano which refers back to many of the lyrical themes.

But Thank You For Your Love is a repetitive stab at soul (he's no Al Green); the duet with Bjork on Fletta is shapeless art music, and Salt Silver Oxygen (“the flying horse carries me across the shy . . .”) is an adolescent poem set to a monotonous vocal line propped up by orchestration.

There is a theme of environmental concern apparently (he's published a 144-page book of his art and writing as a special edition) but that's hard to discern – although themes of death, passing and dream-states are evident.

Small and selective doses rather than a large gulp.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Tame Impala: Currents (Universal)

Tame Impala: Currents (Universal)

Kevin Parker from West Australia might just be the most tuned-in, turned-on and influence-dropping musician on the planet right now. His vehicle Tame Impala (in which he does just about... > Read more

Bill Callahan: Dream River (Drag City/Universal)

Bill Callahan: Dream River (Drag City/Universal)

The final song on this short, emotionally dense album finds our weary, baritone narrator driving home in winter, listening to a Donald Sutherland interview on the truck radio as “time... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Underworld Vs the Misterons: Athens (K7/Border)

Underworld Vs the Misterons: Athens (K7/Border)

This might not be what some would expect from the techno stars Underworld, but this excellent compilation serves a number of purposes outside of being fascinating in its own right. It is a... > Read more

Arthur Alexander: The Ultimate Arthur Alexander (1993 compilation)

Arthur Alexander: The Ultimate Arthur Alexander (1993 compilation)

You only need look at a partial list of those who covered the songs of Arthur Alexander (1940-1993) to get a measure of the man's gifts: the young Beatles (John Lennon a big fan who sang Soldier of... > Read more