Swans - To Be Kind
Critic Score
Based on 38 reviews
2014 Ratings: #2 / 1043
Year End Rank: #13
User Score
2014 Rank: #1All Time: #66
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
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.

100
musicOMH

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.

100
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.

100
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.

100
Sputnikmusic

To Be Kind is not just an exercise in futility, but in durability as well. It tests the listener with all of its will, and holds them at its mercy for two hours straight.

100
Louder Than War

To Be Kind is this years first masterpiece. A stunning, sprawling record that stands tall in a yer surrounded by the yapping mice of attention seeking chancers, a stunning work of art in a gallery of fools and the totem release in a year that’s also full of intriguingly ground breaking records.

100
The Arts Desk

To Be Kind is the sound of a beautiful, primeval chaos that taps directly into the root without any unnecessary artifice and could quite conceivably be their best album to date.

100
Kerrang!

Swans are a feast of musical riches, and To Be Kind is kind of essential.

93
Paste

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.

92
Pitchfork

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.

91
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. 

91
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.

91
Pretty Much Amazing

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

90
Clash

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.

90
Wondering Sound

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

90
Metal Hammer

Swans can easily stake their claim to be the best live band currently operational in the world today. And now with the release of To Be Kind – a titanic, initially punishing but ultimately rewarding masterpiece – their recorded output can comfortably claim to be among the best there is as well.

90
SPIN

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

90
NME

'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.

90
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.

85
Spectrum Culture

To Be Kind is an absolute behemoth of a record no matter how you slice it, delivered by a machine that is somehow possessed enough to go to hell over and over, each time bringing back its incubus in newer, darker forms.

80
Record Collector

It’s as exhilarating and transformative as anything this remarkable band has recorded to date.

80
Classic Rock

To Be Kind is evidence that they continue to grow and may not have reached their peak yet.

80
Mojo
Swans turn up the intensity a notch or three for the latest magnum opus.
80
Uncut

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.

80
Q Magazine
Putting it on is less like listening to an album and more like scaling a mountain.
80
FasterLouder

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.

80
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

80
Exclaim!

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. 

80
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.

80
DIY

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

80
FACT Magazine

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

80
The 405

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

80
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.

80
AllMusic

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.

80
PopMatters

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.

75
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.

70
Rolling Stone

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

60
The Guardian

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

BradTasteMusic
100

I should probably update this review since this album is what I would consider to be the greatest album of the decade as of right now.

I’ll keep it short, because I have a 50 minute video talking about this album on my YouTube channel https://youtu.be/4ebwC7EAoaA

The first time I listened to this album... nothing. I got nothing. I even skipped half way through tracks (this was before I even cared, or expected anything greater from music) and I got half way one day, and I finished the ... read more

ThrowBackG
NR

Think of this concept for a minute and sit with it: a piece of art that can fuck you over without inherently hurting you.

As of writing this I've had some quarrels the past few years which has caused me to build an emotional wall to protect myself. Maybe more of a dome than anything. The past month or so I've been slowly tearing it down through personal writing and brief conversations. I say this because I had an interesting dilemma today.

You see, I hit a point where I had said everything ... read more

Craigold
100

The baby on the cover is actually me. So, just for that, I have to give this a 10

fyrdou
100

What a fucking waste of time 0/10

JLYDDU
90

OK GANG HEAR ME OUT

this ones a bit overrated. Ok I LIKE IT but the sounds aren't the most wack of swans career. there are so many more interesting moments in the trilogy then To Be Kind. the glowing man and the seer are much more artistically interesting works. I like how swans is paying tribute to their roots on this album, BUT its not my favorite because its so standard.

i still like it.

I'M FEELING A SOLID 9.0/10

highlights: Screen Shot, just a little boy, Some things we do, ... read more

80

EXTREMELY experimental, a journey, an adventure. Most songs dont stick out single, but as a group they dominate. I think this will grow on me later, but rn im only feeling an 80

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Added on: January 27, 2014