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Album Review: Swan Songs by Post War Glamour Girls

Leeds post-punk quartet Post War Glamour Girls release their third album Swan Songs on 21st April via Hide & Seek Records. This, the follow up to 2015’s acclaimed Feeling Strange and their debut album 2014’s Pink Fur, is musically reminiscent of The Pixies and Wild Beasts with the dual vocals of James and Alice evocative of Mark E. Smith trading off against Kim Gordon.

Tackling themes of stress, anxiety, depression, the class system, religion, war and government, the band decamped to the remote village of Skerray on the North Coast of Scotland with producers Jamie Lockhart and Lee Smith of Greenmount Studios (Pulled Apart By Horses, I Like Trains, Frank Turner, The Vaccines) to disconnect from the world and place themselves entirely in the album recording process for Swan Songs.

Frontman and lyricist James Smith explains “We decided with this album that we wanted to get lost during the recording process. To let it consume us entirely throughout. No distractions from our day to day lives. No dashing mid-take to get to work on time. No phone calls from our landlords. No other commitments. Just two solid weeks of living it.”

The cohesion and isolation reverberates throughout Swan Songs – it’s an album without boundaries or expectations – the album the band wanted to make. While it’s evident why the band have such a cult underground following, for this is an enthralling album, it’s by no means an easy listen. It challenges you on every turn. Staying within the post-punk sound it is often abrasive and at odds with the atmospherics you’d normally expect from the genre.

There’s two sides to the band notably in the double header of ‘Chipper’ and ‘Gull Rips A Worm’. The former takes a visceral, chaotic and abrasive approach the latent aggression simmers under the surface but drives the overall feeling of the track, whereas the latter takes a more traditional approach to post-punk – revelling in throbbing basslines and haunting atmospherics. It’s the sound of the latter that sees the band at their best.

Similarly, you may find ‘Big Trip’ and ‘Pollyanna Girl’ a challenge compared to the instantaneous atmospherics of ‘Golden Time’ and ‘Sea of Reins’. It’s a challenge you should persevere with though. Once you listen to Swan Songs a couple of times you’ll come to appreciate the abrasive moments. It’s these moments that end up setting Post War Glamour Girls out from the crowd and make them such an enthralling listen – ‘Welfare By Prozac’ will slowly an surely become your favourite track. Loose yourself in the utopia idealism of ‘Devine Decline’ and appreciate Swan Songs for the excellent album it is.

AD Rating 7/10

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