Swansong Happy To Be Here (art by Nat Gyll-Murray)
UK band Swansong was formed in 2015, and have already released two albums and an EP. This month sees the release of their third full-length Happy To Be Here, a sharp album that punches hard and never drops the ball over the course of ten tracks.
Based out of Cornwall, the band is made up partly of current and former members of F. Emasculata and Rash Decision. The four-piece—Nat Gyll-Murray on vocals and guitar, Si Walker on guitar (who also does The Seabin Podcast), Dan Kitts on bass, and Jimmers Thomas on drums—are obviously inspired by classic alt and grunge rock of the 90s and bring their own hard-edged twist on these sounds, a mix fans of bands like the Pixies and the Distillers will enjoy. The band also cites the Cure as an influence, and while their own music is definitely harder, there is a darker edge to many songs, so I can see it.
The record takes off right out of the gate with lead track “Monster,” pummeling the ears with L7-worthy buzz guitars, solid basslines, and Gyll-Murray’s full-throated vocals. It’s a great choice to kick off the record. Highlights also include “Bitter,” “Frida,” and “Lump.” The album is mostly loud, although there are quieter moments within, while the band’s softer side is highlighted on the acoustic-tinged “Let Me Go.”
Happy To Be Here back cover (art by Nat Gyll-Murray)
Song topics range the gamut from unrequited love to anger to hanging in there through tough times and emotions (“You know I’ve been bitter / I left my smile at home / But I’m getting stronger / I don’t know how this will go / But I’ve got to let it go / Cause tomorrow I will have another go”). And lest you forget the band is from the UK, the last track “Barefoot Outside The Palace” relates a tale of being drunk and boisterous outside Buckingham, which is honestly hilarious and a great way to close the record.
A band with such a thick sound risks losing definition in the process of recording, yet the production here, courtesy of Jimmers, is tight as hell. Although the album is self-produced, the band is receiving support from Pumpkin Records and Autonomonster Records for the album’s release. Pumpkin is also offering an EP with 4 tracks from the record as a limited edition lathe cut 10 inch, with profits going to JINWAR Free Women’s Village Rojava and No More Dysphoria.
Swansong live (photo by Dave GM)
The band doesn’t have any US dates planned, although UK readers can keep an eye on their Facebook for any upcoming shows. (F. Emasculata, Nat Gyll-Murray’s other band—which I am happy to tell you is X-Files themed—will be here in the States for some West Coast dates in March.)