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Canadian band Swan Lake, due to the respective pedigree
and "indie" credentials of its three fine musicians has
garnered the title of "supergroup" in some quarters.
They have been able to survive what might have been a
titular kiss-of-death and given us two splendid albums :
'Beast Moans' (2006) and this, their most recent offering,
'Enemy Mine (2009). The angular ferocity of their debut,
without losing any of its power, has mellowed somewhat in
their new offering and displays songwriting of even greater
complexity and intelligence than before.

The band are : Spencer Krug (vocals, guitar and keyboards);
Carey Mercer (Vocals and guitar) and Dan Bejar (vocals and guitar).
Their combined talent breathes life into music of considerable
originality. Whimsical, a little dark in a good way and possessing
a curious dynamic energy which has the capacity to both curdle
our blood and make the hairs stand up on the backs of our necks.

The surreally dream-like fairground waltz of 'Ballad Of A
Swan Lake, Or, Daniel's Song' is an unsettling example of
what they do best. The teetering rhythm, abrasive guitar
and out of kilter, almost inebriated, vocals are as
disconcerting as they are entertaining. A splendid song!

Opening track 'Spanish Gold, 2044' sound like the long lost
lovechild of David Bowie and Captain Beefheart! It struts
and staggers along magnificently like a three-legged lion.
A big bad anthemic sea-shanty of a song, hissing with static
and ringing with monstrous jangling reverb-laden chords.
The mad evangelical vocals are the icing on a very rich cake!

'Paper Lace' is almost charming in comparision. Light as a
feather and sporting a lovely little fifties-tainted refrain
which stands out in the collection like a bright star in a
dark sky.

'Peace' is anything but peaceful. The yelping vocals and densely
layered echoing arrangement are the stuff of nightmares.
The calamitous denouement is a nerve-shredding delight!

'Spider' weaves a tight but nicely creepy web of sound which
for a moment made me recall the sonic landscapes of Shriekback.

The delicate piano-led introduction to 'A Hand At Dusk' belies
the less-than-lovely sentiments which slither and slide just
below the surface of this deeply disorienting composition. Swan
Lake are very much in touch with their inner-Gothic on this one.

Final Track 'Warlock Psychologist' refuses to settle down into
an easily digestable formula and is all the better because of it.
It eventually finds its way to a more coherent and curiously
uplifting coda, bringing this extraordinary album to a rousing close.

Not for the faint-hearted or those looking for a little light
listening but in its own way a thing of almost brutal beauty.

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