To Be Kind
Swans - To Be Kind
Critic Score
Based on 28 reviews
2014 Ratings: #3 / 841
Year End Rank: #13
User Score
Based on 590 ratings
2014 Ratings: #3
May 13, 2014 / Release Date
LP / Format
Young God / Label
Michael Gira / Producer / Website
Your Review


Drowned in Sound

The ten tracks collected here, ranging from five to 34 minutes in length, demonstrate everything that Swans have ever been over their career, but it is their bloody mindedness that continues to stand out.

The Line of Best Fit

Swans are as furious and as boundary-pushing as they’ve ever been, and despite the meticulous composition of the album, there’s still the constant nagging suspicion that Gira has gone utterly, chaotically insane.


If you’re already a Swans fan, you won’t listen to it as many times as you’ve listened to Children Of God, Holy Money or the equally-gargantuan Soundtracks For The Blind, but you’ll love it every time you do hear it. Guaranteed.

The Needle Drop

Swans' latest album takes a hypnotic, meditative approach to churning out some of the most grand and visceral rock instrumentation in the band's 13-album discography.


That is the beauty and wonder of a massive work of art like this. There is no end to the nuances and subtleties that lay within. Find your starting point and start exploring.


To Be Kind adheres to a policy of transcendence by any means necessary, even if it means repeatedly bashing you in the face with a mallet until you’re seeing stars and colors.

Consequence of Sound

In its droning self-focus, To Be Kind exposes the core, both its own and the listener’s, revealing the visceral building blocks of the song as well as the acts of listening and existing.

A.V. Club

It’s a veritable gnostic gospel of noise-rock; hovering above the scraping and sawing of most mere mortals with guitars and drums, the album scrapes and saws as if attacking the fabric of reality rather than mere sanity. 

Pretty Much Amazing

To Be Kind is a loving ode to chaos, full of deranged, mutant energy and even more brilliant for it.


'To Be Kind' is not easy or pleasant; it will probably repel and confuse as much as it inspires. It’s a Hieronymous Bosch painting come to life, impossible to tear your eyes away from despite the grotesque atrocities it depicts.

Tiny Mix Tapes

To Be Kind achieves an intimacy no Swans album has ever approached, but it also ranks among their most turbulent works to date.


As all-consuming a ritual as rock music is capable of giving us, and also as viscerally, joyously life-affirming.

Wondering Sound

To Be Kind thrills in and with discomfort: radical dynamics and collapsing rhythms, uncompromising runtimes and repugnant sentiments.


While its progeny hasn’t fallen far from the tree, ‘To Be Kind’ is altogether more colourful, an expansive record – fleshier, bloodier and lusciously psychedelic.

The Skinny

On the evidence of To Be Kind, Gira and co. have thoroughly outlasted and outperformed their atonal contemporaries and honed their hostile grind into a sinewy and slinky onslaught of light and shade.


Michael Gira is a man unafraid to follow his muse wherever it may take him, and To Be Kind is another example of his singular vision writ large without compromise.

Time Out London

It is a literally awesome record, huge, stark songs that explode with tectonic immensity. But its immensity is such that it never quite gets its hooks in the way ‘The Seer’ did


It is an album that, with a little bit of dedication and a bit of effort leaves you agog. 


That’s the challenge of To Be Kind, and indeed all of Swans’ music as of late; even when it is catchy, as it often is, it calls for the listener’s entire focus.

The 405

Incredibly, they're becoming even less safe, even less predictable, as they near pension age

No Ripcord

Swans have always made albums that are meant to get you to sit down and really *listen,* but with To Be Kind, that seems especially true. The dynamic range on the album is, quite literally, startling.

FACT Magazine

Though Swans’ records are invariably seedy, To Be Kind is downright sexy, tender like a snake and surprisingly intimate.


This time around, the band seem a bit more comfortable with using production to serve the songs on the record ... The effect is wholly satisfying, confusing and obliterating — everything a Swans record should be. 


By the end, you will also feel as though you have touched something profound, something elemental. If this sounds enticing, good luck, and be careful.


These songs roll in like dark clouds, heave and grunt like a galley slave under the lash, or beat relentlessly, like a forehead hammering against a wall.

Under The Radar

Moods and settings are carefully established, and as each track unfolds, it's never immediately evident whether the conclusion of any given odyssey will more likely be lyrically or viscerally climactic, or both.

Rolling Stone

These days, they don't just crush – they hypnotize.

The Guardian

To Be Kind is uncompromising to the point of overindulgence. It's a patience-testing two hours long.

May 14, 2014
The thirteenth album of Swans is a work that it's pulled with hands in blood, it's arranged by demons and its conceptuality embarks everything in the mind of M.Gira the monster behind this double monster. To Be Kind is a two-hour journey full of screams, tears, whispering voices, epic outros, spiritism, mantras, violence and putting the savage in this masterpiece is putting the glory (in my opinion) in the best album by this extraordinary band. To Be Kind is insane, wonderful, ... read more
Jan 19, 2018*
Yeah... I have to agree with Anthony Fantano here

After 30+ listens to this 2 hour masterpiece... anything less then a perfect score feels so wrong. This is one of the albums that got me exploring different genres. It's unbelievable

Track ratings:
Screen Shot - 10/10
Just A Little Boy (For Chester Burnett) - 10/10
A Little God In My Hands - 9/10
Bring The Sun/Toussaint L'Ouverture - 11/10
Some Things We Do - 10/10
She Loves Us - 8/10
Kirsten Supine - 10/10
Oxygen - 10/10
Nathalie Neal - ... read more
May 18, 2014
A tremendous achievement, totally blow my mind. But at the end of the day, is just, not my cup of tea.
Sep 24, 2014
It's not music you can listen to all the time, but not because it's something you only want to spin occasionally - it's an album that benefits from being given one full uninterrupted spin, maybe even scheduling your whole day around it, allowing yourself time to take in the sheer power of it and then process and digest it.
Nov 27, 2016
An absolute monster of an album. This album chugs along like some sort of giant, hulking locomotive. It can go from chaos, to near silence, to absolute chaos again without even beginning to lose or confuse me in all the mayhem. Gira can express a whole exciting range of emotions with just one drawn out word. Would be AOTY 2014 if not for RTJ2.

Highlights: She loves us, A Little God In My Hands, Bring The Sun/Toussaint L'Overture.
Low Points: Some Things We Do.
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Track List

Disc 1

  1. Screen Shot
  2. Just A Little Boy (For Chester Burnett)
  3. A Little God In My Hands
  4. Bring The Sun/Toussaint L'Ouverture
  5. Some Things We Do 

Disc 2

  1. She Loves Us
  2. Kirsten Supine
  3. Oxygen
  4. Nathalie Neal
  5. To Be Kind

Added on: January 27, 2014