Swans | The Great Annihilator | Review
New York Press | Jessica Willis
Sadness Saves.Enough. I'm over it. If Beth Gibbons' disbelieving, choked-up quiver is the introduction to a ruptured heart, then the frigid Leonard Cohen-esque monotone of Swans' M. Gira is the blessed outro. Gira's delivery has all the chummy warmth of mirrored cop shades and arms folded tightly across the chest, and Swans' The Great Annihilator (Young God/Invisible) might be all I need.
The jangly, huge acoustic guitars and horrorshow irony of "She Lives!" reminds me of the pleasure in a well-timed, succinct get the FUCK out of my face: "Every second the you suffer is a loss that I gain. Now I just want to thank you, for the light that you spread: magnesium and sulphur, and the fear in your head." Sure, it's pure early-'80s stringy dyed black hair teen chip-on-the-shoulder goth fodder, but if you spent at least one salad day sitting on a curb near a college chewing your nail, playing with your heavy necklaces and contemplating self-immolation and/or Joy Division, Annihilator will pummel away your loneliness and isolation. During one honestly uplifting instrumental track, the aptly titled "Warm," I remember running through an orchard near my school, black trenchcoat flapping, ankh swaying, enthralled with my discovery of "Love Will Tear Us Apart." I had some kind of an epiphany: Sadness Saves!
In truth, Annihilator, Swans' 19th release, is virtually impossible for you to consume in its 16-track entirety, regardless of how bottled-up and misunderstood you are. Although Gira and his longtime collaborator Jarboe request that you listen all the way through in one sitting "to enjoy the full benefit," by the time I get to the crushing heavy artillery pace of "Alcohol the Seed" and the lighthearted enjoyment of "Killing for Company," I'm thoroughly desensitized. One song is so muddled and thick, it makes me autistic in four minutes. Jarboe's repetitive scream of "Fuhhhkingdestructionnnn" in "Mother/Father" might explain the origins of Courtney Love's yowl, but I'm too busy doing my cross-legged metronome impersonation to truly appreciate the Swans' seminality.