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Swan Lake: Enemy Mine

[Jagjaguwar]

March 24, 2009  |  9:00am
Swan Lake: <em>Enemy Mine</em>
Indie-rock supergroup gets its Asia on

The members of Swan Lake claim that Enemy Mine’s title was originally a Kafka reference, and was changed to avoid being labeled bookish. That’s a strange conceit when every lyric they’ve written is more indecipherable than the last. This patchwork charm, glimpsed on Beast Moans, wears thin on their latest offering, and buckles beneath the pretensions of supergroupdom. Enemy Mine abandons the sparse sonic textures of the band's first album, slathers on the reverb and hopes for the best. The stripped-down approach leaves the three principal voices disparate and free-floating, as though the album was poached from their respective bands’ archives.

The heavy-handed use of vocal distortion does no favors to the obtuse wordplay, muddying Carey Mercer’s characteristic howl as he invokes Agamemnon and moans about “purging the terror in your bones” on "Peace."  Spencer Krug fares better on "Paper Lace" and "Settle On Your Skin," though both sound like b-sides from his main gig Wolf Parade's At Mount Zoomer. Dan Bejar’s tracks emerge relatively unmolested from the production process, and his plaintive emulations of Bob Dylan’s cadence are Enemy Mine’s high points, like this gem from "Heartswarm": “Dearest darling, no one’s in it for the long haul / look here, Kelly, no one’s in it at all.” There are moments when the synths, pianos and strings coalesce to form something resembling the urgency and poignance Swan Lake is capable of, but these spare highlights are only barely worth looking for.

Listen to Swan Lake on MySpace.

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