…there is not a band left standing that can rival Swans for ambition in our post-millennial wasteland. Musically and lyrically, on record and in their live performances, they reach farther and dig deeper than anyone else making music today. The Seer alone would have been sufficient proof of this; that they have given us a record every bit The Seer’s equal a mere two years later is almost grotesque. Enough has been said about Swans’ remarkable comeback this decade, and in any case, I’m not the person to say it—the important point here is that To Be Kind is as vital and unsettling as anything they’ve ever done, and displays a mastery of their craft that seems almost automatic at this point.
Runner-up: Banging on the ceiling with a skillet.
As with any great artist, what Krug doesn’t sing about is just as important as what he does include. Julia With Blue Jeans On finds him cutting away all the excess stone to reveal his perfect form within: “I held the chisel against my cheekbone / And I beheld the face of my true master.” What is left is every bit as vulnerable, awkward, and humane as ever.
The elements of Friendzone’s music are familiar enough. Skewed vocal loops, hip-hop drums, an assortment of shimmering keyboards. On Collection 1, Friendzone demonstrated that their sense of how to combine these elements was as tasteful as anyone else in the game. But these were still only beats. On DX, the group no longer needs to leave room for the raps, and so all the most complex and subtle aspects of their aesthetic stand glowing in the foreground.
[Holter] could have understandably utilized the resources provided by her new Domino contract to streamline and finesse her sound into something more retail-friendly, but instead she makes everything bigger—emotions, codas, choruses—without sacrificing a bit of discretion. There’s an orchestra’s worth of instruments on this record, but they’re used with such a light touch that you’d hardly ever know it. This kind of control is, to say the least, rare.
Nothing says “fuck you” to the crushing inhumanity of late capitalism like a good dog solo.
Now 23% more based.
Good acid or G.O.O.D. acid?
Alice Cooper as fuck.