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    Swan Lake:

    Beast Moans

    Wed, 22 Nov 2006 13:00:56

    Album Reviews: Beast Moans by Swan Lake

    The mere announcement of Swan Lake's formation was enough to quicken the pulses of a certain breed of music fan, to whom Daniel Bejar (Destroyer/New Pornographers), Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade) and Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes) are major players and enigmatic alpha dogs. For people living in those circles, it's easy to forget that a pretty fair chunk of the listening public would look at that lineup and say "Uh, who?"

    It's certainly possible that someone will pick up Beast Moans without being familiar with the day jobs of Bejar, Krug and Mercer. That listener may actually have an advantage, as Beast Moans is a consistently good record, an intermittently great record, but overall isn't on par with the top-shelf work of each member. The unfair kicker is that it's probably not necessarily supposed to be on par; it's essentially three friends playing with chemistry sets and being adventurous. Sometimes the collisions are too droning and/or ragtag ("City Calls"). Sometimes, though, they are sublime ("All Fires" and "The Freedom").

    Not much is straightforward, and not many stories end where they begin. Finding a narrative arc would take a better sleuth than this reviewer, but Beast Moans is fairly unique in offering three distinct lenses to view the action. Those viewpoints aren't necessarily in competition, but it would be disingenuous to suggest that they all resonate equally. Swan Lake seem to generate the most heat when either Bejar or Krug takes a strong lead role.

    Fear of static can make for some frustrating moments for the listener; Bejar begins "The Freedom" simply and powerfully, so it's jarring when an array of textures and wild effects begin to come out of the woodwork and eventually overpower the song altogether. That sort of seismic shift tends to work better given multiple chances to be heard properly. - Adam McKibbin, The Red Alert

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