Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Swell Season: "Strict Joy" (album review)


There has been a big spotlight shone on The Swell Season since their somewhat surprising Oscar win.  The duo are stepping into the light once again with their sophomore album Strict Joy (out October 27th).

The group, comprised of The Frames' singer Glen Hansard and the classically trained Czech Marketa Irglova, are known for their thoughtfully crafted, mature pop songs.  That's exactly what we get from them again on Strict Joy.  Irglova provides an elegant backdrop while Hansard ensures that none of the soul of the music is compromised to deliver the beautiful package.

"The Verb" glimmers like a well polished Coldplay song, minus the pretension while the album closer, "Back Broke" is moody in its ambiance.  The apex however, is "The Rain", which builds ever so methodically into a euphoric crescendo.

Vocally, both musicians have their sparkling moments.  For Hansard that comes in the form of songs like the heartfelt opener "Low Rising" or "High Horses", a track on which he possesses an almost Lanegan-like deep grumble.  Irglova's turn comes on tracks like the tenderly sung "I Have Loved You Wrong" and the mesmerizing lullaby "Fantasy Man".

Things are at their best however when the vocals weave and intertwine.  This plays out in songs like "I Have Loved You Wrong" on which an incredibly intimate and warm song is sprawled out over a tumbling aural landscape.
The Swell Season play Massey Hall in Toronto on November 3rd.

Best tracks: "Two Tongues", "The Rain"

Track listing for Strict Joy:
  • Low Rising
  • Feeling the Pull
  • In These Arms
  • The Rain
  • Fantasy Man
  • Paper Cup
  • High Horses
  • The Verb
  • I Have Loved You Wrong
  • Love That Conquers
  • Two Tongues
  • Back Broke
8.0/10
The Swell Season's website
The Swell Season's Myspace

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1 comment:

Isorski said...

Great review - I first heard I Have Loved You Wrong live and when they got to that end part you could have heard a pin drop in the theater. Wow. Translates great to this new CD too... I posted a review too, at http://bit.ly/1HKsW3.