Black Swan Lane – Things You Know And Love
Some bands think it is enough simply to put out wonderful records. That that alone will do the trick and get them noticed. It is a pity that it isn’t. The truth is nobody quite knows the formula that propels a good band upwards to worldwide greatness. Promotion, luck, hit singles all play their part but there are no guarantees.
Black Swan Lane have already made two wonderful albums, enough to get them noticed….. by people like us. Things You Know And Love is their third, their best and the best record I have heard in 2010 so far. In indie, post-punk, alternative rock, dreampop circles, it is a must have . Delayed guitars, wonderful acoustics and breathy vocals tell only half the story. It’s the way everything comes together – chords flowering into melodies, melodies into songs and songs into vehicles which carry the lyrical message forward. Things You Know And Love gels in this respect. BSL’s synergy releases an energy that flows from band to listener allowing new, personal connections to be formed. The whole album is packed with moments like this – moments that can bring you to your knees in cathartic release or give you goosebumps simply in anticipation of an intro. Only the best music does this.
What have BSL done differently this time? Only the subtlest of tweaking. If the previous albums suffered from anything it was over-generosity. 79 minutes and 75 minutes respectively, it sounds crazy to say so but it was too much. There were no duff tracks per se. It was just that the records felt like bundles. They were scattershot introductions to the bands material – fire it all out and see what sticks. The new record has the focus and precision of a sniper rifle.
Prepare to be assassinated.
Certainly there has been a degree of editorial ruthlessness. One suspects that there are any number of beautiful BSL songs left on the cutting room floor. Things You Know… is a far more punctual 57 minutes, and its thirteen wonders prove that that number can sometimes be very lucky indeed.
Hard to believe, The Smiths and The Chameleons co-existed during the same era of Manchester music. Things You Know And Love gives an insight how it might have been if those legends had ever married their styles together. The Smiths were a great singles band. The Chameleons excelled over the long player. Jack Sobel and co have wisely dipped into the best of both those worlds. BSL’s reverie, more typical of the latter band, is far more likely to flourish within tunes that bring to mind the former. Many of these do. ‘Adeus’ would be right up there with the best of Morrissey solo. The crossover does not end there. I hear passages that will please fans of House Of Love , Catherine Wheel and Editors . Yet there come a time when you have to say enough of comparisons. BSL have made their style their own. Fundamentally for any great album there is variety and favourites emerge. Mine number the title track with its superb rising/falling bassline, the dreamy, Mark Burgess -lead, ‘Wander’, ‘Let Me Go’ and the superlative ‘One Life’ which would suit film or television perfectly. (Producers of The O.C. take note) BSL’s agent should be dispatched forthwith to Hollywood, HBO and Fox.
Things You Know And Love is a wonderful record but the chances are the world won’t listen. With no John Peel to champion this kind of music, simple word of mouth might be our only chance if we wish to keep bands like BSL in our lives. If you agree with me, go tell one person about BSL, about this album and have them, in turn, tell one person. Help BSL find the recognition they deserve and let this beautiful music flow across the oceans.