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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 25 June 2017
Great Album!
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on 16 October 2010
Simply stunning. Intelligent, mature songs that are not afraid to play with simplicity and repetition. There is no one quite like Antony.

There are some more typical piano and vocal led tracks like:
Everything Is New, starting quiet and building up.
The Great White Ocean is a simple and memorable tune, plaintive and beautiful with acoustic guitar (the most, in feeling, to I Am A Bird Now).
The Spirit Was Gone is deceptively simple and sparse.

Ghost and Salt Silver Oxygen are backed by a big orchestra. The sound is fuller and richer, but never overblown or syrupy. At times it recalls The Glare, the Michael Nyman and David McAlmont collaboration. The piano is minimalist and repeating, with high pitched vocals.

I'm In Love has a glorious swirling organ and pulsing bass. Kind of demented fairground jazz.

Violetta is a very short interlude on piano and strings. Hard to call it a track as it's only just over 30 seconds long.

Swanlights is a longer and more mature piece. A creeping intro of distorted vocals and piano (played backwards?), fills out with washes of guitar low in the mix. About half way through the sound expands with a string section and the vocal is delivered in a stuttering rhythmic way. An astonishing track.

Thankyou For Your Love starts slowly with a tremulous twisting vocal delivery, and then morphs into a big all horns blazing soul/motown finale.

Fletta, a duet with Bjork, although a wonderful track doesn't really fit on this CD. Bjork leads and Antony backs her word for word (in Icelandic I presume). So it's really Bjork's track. If you don't like Bjork, don't be put off because this is really a very nice abstract vocal. Gorgeous.

The CD ends with another long track, Christina's Farm. It's slow and stately, unhurried passages of piano are then added to by clear vocals with wonderful phrasing, pace and a twisting delivery.

This is a very mature and thoughtful CD. Beautiful music that is overflowing with big feelings; melancholic, joyful, celebratory and humble.
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on 11 October 2010
We need not have worried.

If the e.p. that preceded "Swanlights" was musically conservative and came accompanied by Antony-by-numbers b-sides and debatable covers (Lennon's "Imagine"), this new album sees Mr Hegarty carefully avoiding blandness and complacency.

It is a poetic work where his artistry contracts and expands at the same time: the lyrics are shorter, haiku-style, while the compositions are longer and more symphonic, on two occasions exceeding the six- ("Swanlights") and seven-minute mark ("Christina's Farm").

"Thank You For Your Love" remains the most accessible track, and the only foray into delicious R'n'B on this release. The rest consists of ballads, mostly piano and string-driven, with occasional afro-inflected rhythm patterns ("I'm In Love") and guitars that, usually acoustic, turn electric on the title-track and sound as if Johnny Marr in his "How Soon Is Now" phase were the guest star. The real guest though is Björk, who actually takes on lead vocals on the minimal, arctic "Flétta".

This is, surprisingly, all there is to say about a musical description of "Swanlights". What is definitely more complex and will never end is the effect that all these elements combined have on the listener. Once again we are in front of an extremely touching, human, fascinating album. Once again Antony's voice resonates with luminous joy and shattering sorrow, his lyrics as always open to multifarious interpretations, his artistic status still untouched after four albums and a media glare that would have simply turned others into straw puppets (or Robbie Williams).

Therefore we can only say: dear Antony, thank you for your art. Thank you for the light you bring into our lives.
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On first listen `Swanlights' doesn't have the immediate impact of `I Am A Bird Now', but after repeated listening you see it is just as beautiful and in some ways more nuanced. From the opening track `Everything is New' and hearing Antony's spellbinding vocals you know you are on safe ground here and the rest of the album doesn`t disappoint. There is a duet with Bjork here as well and I have to say it is one of my favourite tracks on the album, the blend of their voices is nothing short of magical. I tend to feel this is a better constructed album than `The Crying Light' and is the worthy successor to `IAABN' that we were waiting for. Needless to say, for fans of Antony and the Johnsons this will be a pleasing affair and for those new to their stuff I suggest you try `IAABN' first and then come to this down the line to fully appreciate the music on offer.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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Mr Hegarty is a rare creature indeed. His capacity to reach
deep inside himself and create something universally relevant
from the most singular and personal impulses is quite remarkable.

His fourth album 'Swanlights' is in many ways his best work so-far.
Although the shadows which have always been a part of what makes
his work so distinctive and affecting are still present and correct,
there are also rays of sunshine to warm our spirits and hearts.

Following close on the heels of the somewhat lacklustre EP 'Thank
You For Your Love' there is so much to love and admire in the ten
songs in this very strong collection that it is hard to know where
to start.

'The Great White Ocean' is a truly glorious composition; sparkling
like a jewel, the guileless simplicity of the vocal performance
delivers one of Mr Hegarty's very finest moments.

The rhapsodic string and piano arrangement of 'Ghost' is another
of the album's captivating highlights. The complex rhythmic and
harmonic structure is at times suggestive of the music of Aaron Copland.
Rich and ribald and (belying its title) full of teeming life.

'Fletta', an elegant and stunning chamber-duet with Bjork, stripped
down to almost nothing, blazes, nonetheless, like a comet hurtling
though the impenetrable darkness and depths of the heavens both
above and behind our eyes. Touching beyond words.

Final track 'Christina's Farm' is the longest piece in the set.
A melancholy threnody overflowing with elusive imagery and emotion,
it brings the album to an unsettling and ambiguous conclusion.

'Swanlights' is dangerous, trancendent and utterly beautiful.

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on 14 October 2010
I, like most fans of Antony, was excited about this album. After all, the first three were incredible, and actually, The Crying Light had been his best yet. As far as I was concerned, the recent EP was good enough to keep me interested, but hardly a sign of Antony flexing his creative muscles, so I was expecting something magical to counteract something uncharacteristically dull as a taster.

Long-term fans, therefore, may be a bit disappointed. Songs like Ghost are powerful, majestic signs of Antony on form, but songs such as the title track go on far too long, incidentally, as does the first single, which is by far the weakest track on the album. Thank You for Your Love won't win any awards, largely because it sounds like every other pop song out there. Antony's vocals make a bit of a difference (his emotive warble makes anything sound a little distinctive), but if you swapped his vocals for someone like Joe McElderry or Will Young, would it make a huge impact on this particular song? Probably not.

That's the frustrating thing, really. It's an album of inconsistencies, and while that may work for new fans of Antony's work, it will underwhelm fans who got taken in by I Am a Bird Now and the previous CD. You'll enjoy most of it, but if you're expecting mindblowing, beautiful music which, to be fair, won this band the Mercury Prize against all odds, you will only find it on about 6 of the 11 songs here. Not bad, but certainly not gripping in the way the first three records were, from my perspective.
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on 18 July 2012
Antony And The Johnsons are fantastic - Antony's vocals are very unique and haunting, the songs and melodies are always very beautiful and emotional and the artwork of each album is well thought out and appealing to the eye. This successful formula is utilised on their fourth album "Swanlights" which is yet again another masterpiece.

The opener "Everything Is New" is a lovely piano led ballad with repetitive lyrics and a strong melody. The following song "The Great White Ocean" is a very delicate and mesmerisingly beautiful acoustic guitar led ballad and is one of my favorite tracks on here. "Ghost" is much more up-tempo, its arrangements primarily comprising of a fast paced piano rhythm and flowing strings which, to me, imitate the rushing of water in a river and gusts of wind. "I'm In Love", the first track to have a drum beat, is a sweet love song with interesting swirling arrangements and quite a strange and intriguing melody. The title track "Swanlights" is quite dark and disturbing with just heavy synthesiser sounds combined with Antony's vocals for the first 3 minutes and then the addition of piano and drums for the remainder of the song. "The Spirit Was Gone" is a melancholic piano led ballad with very meaningful lyrics, a story told with emotion and passion. "Thank You For Your Love" is the most upbeat, uplifting and soulful song on this release with a distinctive Blues influence. "Fletta", featuring the ever so talented and original Bjork, is a tranquil song with light piano arrangements which automatically brings their vocals to the forefront of the song and allows them to blend together so well. "Salt Silver Oxygen" is very orchestral and magical with grandiose arrangements and heavenly vocals. The final song "Christina's Farm" is yet again another beautiful piano led ballad which portrays a haunting and heartfelt story.

Once again, Antony And The Johnsons deliver an unflawed record filled with wonderful unique songs. "Swanlights" feels as if it was constructed and pieced together like an Opera, with sequences that intertwine and unravel side by side. I have never been disappointed by a recording from Antony And The Johnsons and I hope that this continues for as long as they will be writing music. "Swanlights" is simply beautiful.
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on 19 April 2011
swanlights is not for light weights of life that enjoy agood pop song this is pure emotion simple angst and bitter frustration bourne from the treatment of our planet from the majority the passion is so strong sheer love and beauty fletta thank you for my love are my faves here just buy
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on 5 November 2010

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on 31 December 2011
I have always enjoyed A & the Js and I think this is a very strong album that could indeed attract new listeners to Antony's brand of music. It's refreshingly positive for him, which is a nice change of pace from someone usually so melancholy. I don't expect it's a mood that will remain but it's nice to have a glimpse of him in this more uplifted mode.
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