Album review: Antony And The Johnsons – Swanlights (Secretly Canadian)

Album review: Antony And The Johnsons - Swanlights (Secretly Canadian)


A jubilant and beautiful fourth album for Antony Hegarty - and the CD booklet is rather good too

Essentially what a CD booklet always wanted to be when it grew up, [b]Anthony Hegarty[/b]’s fourth album comes encased in a large hard-backed book of his cut’n’paste surrealist collages which cries ‘THIS IS ART!’ as loud and proud as any amount of affected he/she warbling. Thankfully, the album slipped into this HMV shelf-stacker’s worst nightmare largely justifies such grand pretensions. For every ‘[b]Everything Is New[/b]’ – a looping chamber quartet refrain of the title that’s as artful and pointless as [a]Radiohead[/a]’s ‘[b]Everything In Its Right Place[/b]’ – there’s a direct and devastating ode to death like ‘[b]The Great White Ocean[/b]’. For every bout of backwards-piano esoterica (the title track) there’s a funksome brass-pop corker (‘[b]Thank You For Your Love[/b]’).

And for every burst of lyrical ayahuasca – “[i]Elect the salt mother/For she’s a selective Christ/Punch her ghost![/i]” goes ‘[b]Salt Silver Oxygen[/b]’ – there’s an ‘[b]I’m In Love[/b]’, all jubilant romance and hand-claps. A record of beauty and balance, ‘[b]Swanlights[/b]’ cements Hegarty as the transgender [a]Joanna Newsome[/a]: artsy and challenging enough for the Guardian chin-strokers, but with enough hushed melodic wallop to seduce all-comers. It’ll hit you like a punch to the ghost.

[b]Mark Beaumont[/b]

Click here to get your copy of Antony And The Johnsons’

‘Swanlights’ from Rough Trade Shops.