A barrage of bracing estrogen-powered post-punk continues the lineage of Delta 5, the Au Pairs, and Lora Logic. Swan Lake shares geography, as well as social ties, with the late great Sleater-Kinney (their drummer appeared in the “Jumpers” video), but musically, they hark back a good bit earlier. Their jittery, scattery dual guitar assault leaves room for anxiety, for trembling sweetness and vulnerability, just as Delta 5’s double bass structures did, while their hard-rock-leaning riffage calls to mind 1980s commercial metal like Def Leppard. The best cut is “Crumble”, whose taut, metal-tinged guitar riffs crack a whip under singer Brisa Gonzalez’s warbly haunt of a voice. Ultra-tight, ultra-staccato, the band crafts beat-driven riffs that are at once off-kilter and supremely danceable, all stuttery bass and clattering break-beat drums. “Junk Parade” is almost as good, a touch slower, bass and drum architecture showing under strop-sharp guitar dialogue. Gonzalez howls like a banshee (or a Banshee) in this one, but it’s the slower cut, “Tracks”, where her softer side shows, velvety and warm as Chrissie Hynde in ballad mode. There’s a bizarre hidden track at the end of “Grey Matter”, a crazy post-modernist violin-and-piano duet that hints at classical training, but don’t think for a minute that Swan Island is not about fun. Just by accident, I ended up listening to Swan Island and like-mindedly female-led, post-punk (and also Portland-based) Wet Confetti the same week—and, what do you know, Swan Island came out ahead.
- "Crumble" Streaming audio
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// Sound Affects
"History repeats the old conceits, the glib replies, the same defeats. Keep your finger on important issues, and keep listening to the 275th most acclaimed album of all time. A 1982 masterpiece is this week's Counterbalance.READ the article