11 Songs, 46 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Antony Hegarty’s voice is one of hand-wringing anxiety and tension. He sings a version of dark opera where the restless spirits take over the cathedral. 2010’s Swanlights, Antony & The Johnsons’ fourth album, runs toward the light, as unlikely as that might seem. The tension is still here. “Ghost” is a nervous piano tune where the notes scurry over the backing strings while Hegarty’s voice heads to the heavens. “I’m In Love” breaks the spell of his miseries with a surprisingly chipper vocal take and an upbeat buzz to the avant-cabaret music that can’t help but sound like a carnival about to shut down. This Brecht-Weill effect lines the arrangements throughout. “Violetta” is a half-minute instrumental break signaling the second act. “Swanlights” begins with backwards-tapes and mild distortions as the sound slowly coalesces around the odd incantations that verge on latter-day Scott Walker. “Thank You for Your Love” is a virtual pop song by comparison. However, an unusual duet with Björk on “Flétta” rebalances things towards the kind of twisted and tortured emotional battles that one usually expects from this vocal wonder.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Antony Hegarty’s voice is one of hand-wringing anxiety and tension. He sings a version of dark opera where the restless spirits take over the cathedral. 2010’s Swanlights, Antony & The Johnsons’ fourth album, runs toward the light, as unlikely as that might seem. The tension is still here. “Ghost” is a nervous piano tune where the notes scurry over the backing strings while Hegarty’s voice heads to the heavens. “I’m In Love” breaks the spell of his miseries with a surprisingly chipper vocal take and an upbeat buzz to the avant-cabaret music that can’t help but sound like a carnival about to shut down. This Brecht-Weill effect lines the arrangements throughout. “Violetta” is a half-minute instrumental break signaling the second act. “Swanlights” begins with backwards-tapes and mild distortions as the sound slowly coalesces around the odd incantations that verge on latter-day Scott Walker. “Thank You for Your Love” is a virtual pop song by comparison. However, an unusual duet with Björk on “Flétta” rebalances things towards the kind of twisted and tortured emotional battles that one usually expects from this vocal wonder.

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