Since their emergence in the early 1980s, Swans have consistently looked to push the boundaries of alternative rock music. Generally adopting a bold and experimental edge to their compositions, they have always come back with something fresh and new for us to get our teeth into. But while their previous record 'The Glowing Man' saw them continue their full band aesthetic, frontman and founding member Michael Gira chose to disband the group in 2017, returning to take the project forward on his own and delivering 'leaving meaning.', a grand and expansive double album that sees Swans in a whole new light.
Not too dissimilar to how Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds has become more focused on its singer and songwriter, Swans is now just a one-man-band and this seems to show from the very start. Rather than looking to blow us away with its fresh and vibrant instrumentation, the feel of this return is far more minimal than we have heard from them before, preferring to focus itself entirely on Gira's haunted vocals. Channeling the dark and atmospheric feel of frontmen like Billy Corgan and Tom Waits, Gira croons and soars his way through a dark and meandering collection that manages to create a strong and eerie sense throughout.
With a running time of 93 minutes, 'leaving meaning.' sits as one of the longest efforts in the band's catalogue, and at times can show it. With the majority of the tracks running well past the 10-minute mark, the pace and flow of this record does stumble in places but still makes for a wildly fascinating and intriguing collection regardless.