Angels of Light | How I Loved You | ReviewIlluminating, maybe, but never lite. "Cut the eyes out of my head/Tear my tongue out if I speak," Michael Gira sings in "My Suicide," one of the 10 love songs, as he describes them, on this album. Of course, equating the seeds of love with the inspiration to commit suicide is something we’ve come to expect from Gira. He was the dour-if-spiritually-charged ex-leader of the absolutely dour post-industrial wrecking crew Swans; currently he plays Lucifer to the cheerier and infinitely more melodic Angels (essentially Gira with any number of guests, who here include Kid Congo Powers). Sure, the Angels’ lyrics deploy images of torture, betrayal, imprisonment, and the like, but Gira’s intentions are good. He plumbs these images in numbers like "My True Body" and "New City in the Future" to reflect on how love causes people to transform: a part of one’s character dies or withers while new aspects flower.
The music tells the same story. Dark undercurrents of guitar, keyboards, bass, strings, and percussion (as well as musical saw) are subjected to Caligari-like treatments while being supported by a solid framework of acoustic guitar that’s in turn decorated with airy filigrees of all of the above. So little melodies dance in constant counterpoint to Gira’s warm-but-weary croon and simmering emotions. Illuminating, maybe, but never lite.