Swans - Love of Life
Aug 13, 2019
82
if White Light from the Mouth of infinity is the birth of a new, beautiful world, Love of Life is armageddon. the connection between these two projects is pretty clear, what with the similar sounds and similar cover arts. however, while the instrumentation is similar, Love of Life strikes an overall different tone than its sister.

right from the opening track, Love of Life, we're hit with this sense of impending doom. the quick percussion, the menacing piano, it gives the track a sense of urgency, almost as if it's running for its life. the track is full of so much energy, it really fills you with anticipation for the entire album and sets a high bar. Swans have always been pretty consistent with their openers, and this is definitely one of their best. i also think this is one of Gira's better vocal performances - i just love how it flows and harmonizes with the track, and Jarboe's backing vocals, as usual, add so much depth to the song. we get another heaping helping of impending doom on the following track, The Golden Boy That Was Swallowed By the Sea, which is a ridiculously Swans title. this track, while slower than Love of Life, sounds even more menacing, with these subtle organ chords melding with the bass creating a droning, creeping backdrop for the rest of the instrumentation. the intricacy of this song is honestly really impressive - its not one that really hits you immediately, but if you listen in close and pick apart each of the parts, there's a ton going on here that all come together perfectly.

a moment of happiness and peace is granted to us on the track Her, a spacious and subtle ballad... for the most part. i love the quiet guitar and tambourine, it sounds like the song is being played around a campfire at night. it's really sweet and quaint, a nice breather from the bigger, more menacing tracks. of course, it can't stay this way for long, as around 2:10, these loud electric guitars come outta nowhere and corrupt the beauty of the track with their sinister timbre. Jarboe lays down some of her most haunting vocals ever - they're completely buried in the mix, slowly panning from one ear to the other, and they sound like damned souls crying out from the depths of hell. it's pretty terrifying, if i'm being completely honest. eventually the song breaks away into a reprise of the calmer section of this song, while a sample of a young Jarboe plays talking about her summer, and maybe forming a band with her friends. it's a nice moment that invokes a sense of nostalgia for the past, something Swans would explore further on their later projects. great song in all regards.

Amnesia is a great Holy Money track, idk how it made it on to Love of Life lmao. with the speedy kick drum and snare, it's pace resembles the opener, but it's got a completely different tone. while Love of Life is impending doom, this feels like you're on the battlefield fighting beasts from hell. Giras higher-pitched, warped vocals are really, really weird for Swans, i can't recall them doing anything like this before, but it sounds fantastic. they cause the track to sound like, inherently mischievous? like as if the devil itself is singing, or like a helper? it's hard to describe, but once you hear it you really get this feeling of some kind of dark presence being behind it.

unfortunately, Love of Life isn't perfect by any means. first, i think the Jarboe ballads are some of the least interesting they've done. i love Jarboe, i think she adds dynamics and depth that Swans desperately needs, but these two tracks, The Other Side of the World and She Cries (For Spider) don't really do anything for me. i think it's the instrumentation - they just sound kinda basic and not super interesting, especially on She Cries. they don't have that Swans factor, the dark temperament that they're so known for. in general, the ending of this album is kinda weak, it sort of just peters out. God Loves America is a bit too spacious and empty for my tastes, although the outro to it is pretty incredible, fit with gothic guitars and more haunting Jarboe wails. No Cure for the Lonely is okay, and i get that it's not supposed to be super gothic and huge, but it's just not the kind of music i enjoy. a bit too folk-y and americana-y for my tastes. it's also important to note that if you didnt like White Light, you won't like Love of Life. while they do have different tones, they are very much sister albums, and they have very similar sounds. as someone who's not as crazy about folk Swans as some other eras of Swans, these two albums can be hard for me to get through as the sound just isnt as captivating to me. however, i can still recognize them as great albums in the grand scheme of things.

Love of Life is one of Swans' most interesting releases. it simultaneously sounds nothing like their earlier work, but still manages to capture that dark, intense dread Swans is so good at manifesting. i like it about as much as White Light, if not a little less.

FAVORITE - Amnesia, Love of Life, The Golden Boy That Was Swallowed by the Sea, Her, In The Eyes of Nature
LEAST FAVORITE - No Cure for the Lonely
1 Comment
Aug 14, 2019
respectable take
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