SwansFrom the 100 best records of the decade SWANS Children Of God (1987)
Pat Robertson's bid for the presidency, the oxymoronic Moral Majority, Bakker's fall from grace: These events were met in a head-on collision with Swans' perfect blend of sound and themes, their musical brawn contrasting with Jarboe's soft passionate blasphemy. "We are Special. We are perfect. We are born in the sight of god" she sings on the last title track, opting for the best salvation money can buy, the promise of expired suffering, But not before Gira's condemnation of every last one of us, "The sex in your soul will damn you to hell," he bellows on the opener, "New Mind." He's ready to make us receive the new mind, be brainwashed, do whatever it takes in light of this damnation, and so the album coalesces in a series of never relenting haunts. Early records were made of the shock of crunch and grind alone; on Children of God, oboe, piano, flute, harmonica, and cello are incorporated as each song alternates between hellish hopelessness and quiet mourning.
Religion comes equipped with a trail of blood and unthinkable sin. Ultimately, cowering in the darkest corners leads one to search for the light. There's blood on all our hands. For Swans, love is a drug, work a humiliation, and mortality a cruel joke. What we do to convince ourselves otherwise can't compete with this record, and it's still downright scary, and beautiful, to hear.