Swords have been working on their début album ‘Lions & Gold for the past 10 months; a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of pre-album publicity went into the creation of what is one of the most astonishingly good Irish albums of the year so far.
The 11 track album is practically flawless, displaying the band’s mastery of their craft.
Beginning with Myopic, an atmospheric way to start it off, immediately pulls the listener in with a reverberating bass and thundering drums. It sets the stage for what is a flawless, fun album.
Buildings follows, showing the band’s funkier side with a defiant message screaming through the gently sung lyrics: “I’m not your window, I’m not your building…I’ll smash your windows I’ll smash your building.” It is a song of strength in terms of sentiment and quality, stirring the listeners’ sense of pride and emotion.
Another emotive track is 8 Life Eat. The quirky titled song takes into the softer strain of the album. It is a drawn out but blissful track that impeccably showcases Diane Anglim’s vocal perfection as does Hips which follows seamlessly. This is a piano driven song, heartbreaking in its poignancy. There is an air of needing to be with someone, always, and the inability to live without that rings beyond the lyrics and through Anglim’s voice. It is hard to get passed this song without recognising the influence of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Little Shadow in particular. It is a delicate track with vocals so raw they wear away at the listeners’ heartstrings.
The album includes a couple of familiar tracks such as All the Boys which got some airplay on Phantom over the past few months. The song is a dance anthem with the heavy electro content rendering it catchy and compelling. The title track has also gained some attention in recent weeks. The drums here an intriguing factor, tying inthe twinkling keyboards and strong vocals perfectly with a tempered and rumbling pattern.
The final three songs are what solidifies the band’s potential for becoming one of Ireland’s shining alternative starts. Nine Nights has a fantastic, teasing intro before Anglim kicks in with a strong, gutsy vocal. Skin You is of world class quality with Anglim’s vocals at the best and the drum beat once again taking control.
The album finishes on a mountainous note with Wicklow an unbelievable tune which pulls out all the stops; the electro element is flooring, the vocals are, as is custom throughout the album, astonishing, and the drums, yet again, thunder in background guiding the song, and the album, to a fitting finish.
There is no escaping the Yeah Yeah Yeahs comparisons; a three piece band, female fronted, with a penchant and exceeding talent for creating catchy electro tinged rock. Yes, it does sound familiar but this album is a first for the Irish music industry; there is so much strength in ‘Lions & Gold’, not delivered through one specific track or element; it is compelling and world class. Keep an ear out for Swords.