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Entertainment Is Over If You Want It

The Swords Project
Entertainment Is Over If You Want It
(Arena Rock)

The Swords Project first caught my ear just over a year ago with the release of their self-titled debut EP. Although it was only 4 tracks long, the group showed that they had a propensity for creating rather grandious rock tracks without being heavy-handed about it. Instead of dropping a huge dynamic shift, they seemed plenty content to create consistently stunning textural moods. Entertainment Is Over If You Want It is another nice step for the group, as they add a couple nice wrinkles to their sound and continue down the road that made their first disc so good.

The most recognizable difference in the overall sound of the release is that the group makes use of vocals a lot more. Vocals were also employed on their last disc, but it was mainly as simply another sound element, and never with discernable words. "01" opens the album with some warbling electronics and violin, only going on long enough (just over a minute) to set a mood before dissolving into the next track. "City Life" opens with submersed-sounding programmed beats before lolling off into space-rock land as distorted vocal loops mix with more electronics, jangling guitars and a meandering bassline. The programmed beats eventually burst back in before morphing into real drums as the track smashes into a glorious explosion of psychedelic sound and thundering duel drums. The huge shift in dynamics is quite a change from their slowly-evolving earlier tracks, but I'd be lying if I didn't say the 4-minute song doesn't have one of the best moments in music that I've heard already this year.

"MD11" follows up with another up-tempo track as vocals by bassist Corey Ficken again soar over layers of guitars, programmed beats, real drums, and rich keyboards. "Cocktails And Shuttlecocks" finally finds the group stretching things out a bit, morphing things from a peaceful, almost loungey opening before working up to a full-on space-rock ending that mixes in some nice brass and some more great vocals by Ficken (that are admittingly almost impossible to decipher, but add a nice layer).

"Audience Of One" is the longest track on the disc at over 10 minutes, but even it doesn't follow the same structure as longer tracks on their previous release. Instead of simply working into a slow crescendo, the group changes up things several times over the course of the long track, going from slow to speedy and back again while twinklings from the Rhodes flutter all over. "Immagracion" arrives as easily the most straightforward song on the album, and it's also probably the weakest spot while "New Shapes" closes the album with another long track that just sort of wanders around and lets the group do what they're best at before pulling off an explosive moment of sound that rivals the huge wash of noise on the aforementioned "City Life." After one last gasp, the album drifts out on a bed of electronic pulses and closes in just under 42 minutes. With a lot of great moments and only a few slightly unfocused ones, this is an excellent second release from a group that most people unfortunately still haven't heard of.

Rating: 7.5