23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Tortuous but Charming,
By A Customer
This review is from: Swoon (Audio CD)
A murky but beautiful concoction, Swoon is really difficult to get to know, but well worth the effort. It appeared out of nowhere, sounding like an obsessive fragment of some lost tradition - apparently McAloon spent years in his bedroom polishing everything up way past boredom, and ended up with a record of microscopic shifts, changes and observational ticks which somehow wove together in a bizarre narrative.
The song structures are very odd, and much less predictable than his later poppier efforts. Instead of classic verse-chorus-verse they seem to bring you round in an ever-decreasing orbit, and you keep meeting familiar musical figures, then it disintegrates into a different shape. At first this is very irritating, but later takes on this magical charm. You don't so much listen to this album as navigate your way through it! Most songs have 'too many bits', but you get used to it.
McAloon's vocal mannerisms veer between the opposites of an almost excruciating lack of self-consciousness and painfully shy introspection. He sings like someone forcing a sound for his own scrutiny and never really lets rip naturally. Trying his best to emote freely - "bo, bo-bee" - he only traps himself with 6th Form intellect, Jodrell Bank, and "four good A'level passes". What else can you say about a song which hero-worships chess master Bobby Fischer?
A very masculine record, Swoon substitutes restless intellectualising for real emotion, but every now and then McAloon hits a bullseye. Men the world over will pause and sigh for a moment each time they hear "Cruel", an assembly of the most perfect couplets in songwriting "But I Don't know how to describe the modern rose, When I can't refer to her shape against her clothes". We've all been there!
An anthem for the middle classes, Swoon's biggest achievement was to make romance of the real lives that most people really had back then. From a time when the united youth against Thatcher disowned its middle class identity whilst Dad drove them back to Uni, Swoon was the secret favourite, today it sounds like a real classic.