Black Swan Lane - Dead Souls Collide
ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2023
The sky fills with water, a reverse deluge has been spotted by the ever-awake eyes of a man perpetually clinging to his duality, non-confrontational, aimed at living the opposite aspects of life, where good and evil rage relentlessly. An artist who writes about the contemporary like few others, retaining the support of a past that has taught, shown fists and caresses. From Atlanta, USA, we witness an event that, starting from the vault of heaven, descends into our thoughts disarming defenses, gaining applause that smells of adoration with no possibility of changing intention.
Dead Souls Collide is the eleventh album under the Black Swan Lane name, because of Jack Richard Sobel's choice not to give up with what he had created, even though he actually remained the only real musician. All this gives the American author rivers of freedom and chains in continuous diffusion, so that he can celebrate his rays of action with authenticity. We witness an evident compositional maturity, the use of experience and creativity in support of a sonic beam that is still robust and sensual, but adding a mysterious zone born of a skillful interweaving of music and words. He amazes us, confirming that his visionary world is indeed above expectation, painting the sound yes with the usual wall of guitars but managing to blend the messages, the moody and moral propensities toward the intense and gray expressions of a pentagram pregnant with pain and at the same time with confidence, a seductive embrace that knows how to stun and nourish the dimly lit alleys of our thoughts.The Rock formula remains the preferred one, always accompanied by a Post-Punk pulse, gravitating elegantly in waves in which the shimmer and passion for Shoegaze, Alternative and Sad Pop remain well in view, in the design complexity that has always testified to the qualities of this funambulist artist. Songs that shock, slip under the beat, behind the channels of the mental labyrinth to take up residence. Eleven breaths illuminated by the obesity of the world, by a critical will that is increased, specifying itself in the behavioral complexity that, starting from personal, couple relationships, knows how to reach the collective, for a respectful attack against mediocrity.
There is no shortage of surprises, both in style, mental approach, and new rituals that make one think, as is often the case with Jack, of a concept album, to give continuity and depth to this swimming in the time of degradation. What remains intact is his ability to strip away the masks, to deposit the inevitable inside guitars that are full of salt, dissolving our listening in a bath of solitude immersed in water filled with trails. Loneliness is described as both an opportunity and a condemnation that cannot be denied, delegating surely better but not credible opportunities to dreams. Sobel opens the journal of life pregnant with words that know how to break the crystals of security and deception. To do this, his voice is mutated, veering into the most searing and ghostly drama, laying his tonsils on the most bent and mystical sentiments, disintegrating and comforting, taking our breath away, filling our ears with truly commanding intimate connections.
If the previous Hide in View (2021) and Blind (2022) had shown a more rocky, noisy flair, with rhythm at the centre of every intention, with Dead Souls Collide we come to terms with a truly imposing weighting, with the songs placed one after the other with intelligence, to give the listener the continuity, elegance and sense of a path that, through steps that are never confused, knows how to build an ocean within our tears.Black Swan Lane attack, make visible a wall of notes that scratch the black to leave in the sky the possibility of a white that can at least smile once in a while.
Some waste time looking for the band's roots, the similarities, making comparisons: bad journalism never dies. Rather: let's give this still-unknown molecule a chance to be evaluated in itself, to glimpse originality that is not lacking, to catch a glimpse of something unique that is not hard to discern. Listening reveals a soul that plants its flag in the place of intimacy, a concession that does not serve to become the artist's friend but rather the mode through which one can take a melancholy but lively tour near one's now weary footsteps. The work is dynamic, in this sense, in that it opens the arms of rainbows, and it matters little if the feeling of pessimism seems to win out, for it does not.The beauty of this work consists of an innumerable series of novelties, to make it all sound like a sprint, giving away the pangs and sighs, the upsets and dreams within melodies that seem to have been found under the skin of a highway: whether the rhythm is slow or fast matters little since everything leaks out with precision, matching the roar of the guitars with a wise electronic dose, making the best use of the software and modes granted by modernity.
The drumming is, as always, dry, expressive, powerful and imaginative, in the cacophonous embrace with the bass, again a protagonist, but in this musical work more at the service of the numerous guitars that, bleeding, deadly, dynamic, corrosive, sensual, manage to be the protagonists of frothing-at-the-mouth songs. The keyboards, piano, and samples are Jack's further form of residency, a fact in itself begun already for at least two albums, to give this outfit a spectacular and unimpeachable poise.The highlighted chaos is a cuddle in the cradle of the quiver, with songs that make people dance, reflect, shake their spirits, for a clear murder of the superfluous. Hard work, meticulous, focused, and needing to shove aggressive but respectful poise in the face. Thrown arrows, chandeliers broken in the face, screams, sand-filled wings, and the swelling breath, hallucinated but aware: further evidence of a completeness that grants no replication. Jack has written his most intense moment: all that remains is to shower in such beauty and decide whether or not to follow him....
Arm yourselves with curiosity: eleven splinters are about to reveal themselves....
Song by Song
The song that opens the album has hypnotic and mysterious lyrics, with a sly lead guitar that fits perfectly into the scratchy ones, with a keyboard that glues, almost secretly, this envelope to our attention. In the style of the last two works, it shows interesting signs of being able to transport a rock nature to the shoegaze cloud, without overdoing it. Valuable.
2 The Sacrifice
First jolt, within a lyric that knows how to combine criticism and bitterness, in a relational plan that also deals with the religious aspect, with a sound system that alternates a Post-Punk bass with electric and semi-acoustic guitars to reach a Sad Pop refrain that sticks in the mind. The melody is minuscule but capable of hypnotizing, like a cloak of sand on a rainy day. Acidic and powerful.
In the powerful final solution of a considerable amount of pills as a necessary anesthesia towards relational fatigue, the piece is a powerful animal beat, with the drumming beating, within the interplay of rhythmic electric guitars and arpeggios with semi-acoustic ones. The vocals are a perfectly synchronized mantra with significant structure, as they show (especially with the bass) a deep connection to the songs of their early albums. Pregnant with acid, like a gentle slap in the face, this track underscores BSL's ability to aim well and hit the target. Mighty.
4 Push Me Under
The demons of the mind expose in the lyrics their attitudinal trades, an imbalance, a loneliness, a fall supported by a full-bodied and sweet melody, over a good beat, for a song that confirms the willingness to hold hands with the need to dance syncopatedly with a dreamy structure. A gem to cuddle.
How perfectly to combine pessimism and positive momentum: brilliant lyrics for a colossal track, with a horror imprint perfectly confirmed by the voice (with its singing) and the instruments, capable of creating tremors. Gloomy and skillful in making the approach of mental death palpable, it finds a way in the chorus and subsequent sound cascades of guitars to stick in the mind. Extraordinary.
6 Forever Lost
Featuring Robyn Elizabeth Abrams on vocals for a very few but significant seconds (emotional, thrilling, an excellent insertion), this sonic gem possesses enormous merit: it leads the memory back to Post-Punk glimmers in a melodic core that comforts, since the lyrics do not allow as much room for smiles. The guitar revolves around the need to combine rhythm and arpeggio managing to stun perfectly: intense.
7 Alone As Me
The most spectacular moment of this eleventh work, the track with the most minutes, like a long drama exposed in a dual mode: a decadent and slow first part, a vibrant second part, then repeating, for a whole that leads directly to weeping. All the discomfort of living seems to collapse within this stage that also allows moments of tenderness. Sepulchral and stunning.
8 Under My Wings.
Without a shadow of a doubt the album's masterpiece: everything works perfectly, showing, among many other things, how Jack knows how to tame his voice and bring it, within a higher and more powerful register, into a hallucinated visual space full of power, giving the words a very convincing acting act. Powerful and surgical in both music and lyrics, he knows how to displace, to lead the listener into a fascine wet with enchanting and desperate tears. Perfect and surgical.
9 A Place Where The Light Dies
Here we are confronted with the tenderness of a musical structure seemingly devoted to sweetness that is quickly shattered by a marvellous chaos, to a singing full of darkness and pain, with guitars at once bleeding and reflective. A perfect summation of Jack left as the sole creator of the whole, free to traverse the possibility of compacting extreme sides and making them coexist with ease and ease. Powerful, dreamy, full of ardor and weed within a dreamy planet. Another prodigy.
10 Ghosts (instrumental)
Perfect coda to the previous song and anticipator of the next one, we find ourselves in the magnetic field of a day when autumn is a light blanket reaching for the sky, tempting tears to tear away their silence. Sweet, bitter, perfect.
Jack knows the way to give intimacy the perfect sound, surrounding it with mystery, slowing down the frenzy and placing it all, perfectly, as the last track, with a guitar that flexes sadness toward the desire for light. With words that sound like a declaration of love without denying the difficulty of living, he represents Elizabeth for a perfect mantra that slows down every rush for a finale that like perfect glue brings intention and actual possibilities together for a magnetic and meaningful result. Dreamy and necessary.
Jack's best work as a soloist. The intensity expressed gives everyone the possibility of a deep dive into the murky water of our breaths. With subsequent challenging need to structure thought toward new shores.
Old Scribe's Album of the Year: give space to the need to find in music a breath of wind that leads us away from all fragility...
Out on December 12 2023
5 November 2023