7/10 Clinton Staff review, 11 April 2014
One of my favourite bands of the 90’s were Swell. They made some incredible records (particularly ‘Well’ which every home should own) and were generally woefully underrated and undeservedly ignored. The last Swell album I picked up was ‘Whenever You’re Ready’ but since then I’d lost track of main man David Freel. Always an incredibly talented songwriter and studio whizz, the latter Swell albums were mostly solo affairs and this has continued into this new more experimental project.
After an opening bit of static comes ‘Black Roses’ this is drop dead superb. All the Swell melodicisms are intact but its a much more out there sound opening with some distinctive 10CC style organ stabs and with the formerly ever-present acoustic guitar strumming away, the mix is filled with electronic debris giving it a much more contemporary edge than earlier work. Its a brilliant track which is followed by the unpalatable ‘Loaded Gun’ where Freels voice has been pitch shifted out of recognition. ‘We’re Gonna Be Heroes’ is a wild noisy effort, one part Stooges, one part Pixies. Thankfully the acoustic guitar is back for ‘Please Pardon Me’, there was always a Frank Black element to Freel and here it comes rushing out. If Black is happy to drag his old band name through the dirt, Freel is ploughing a lonely furrow into a more experimental world of electronics and a devil-may-care attitude.
I’d like more tunes for sure but when they do arrive as on incendiary penultimate track ‘Smart Ass Dumb’ they still show Freel at his most uncompromising. No mid life lull here, this is seriously wild stuff.
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