Record review: Antony & The Johnsons, Swanlights


2009’s The Crying Light saw Antony Hegarty stripping away the layers for an excruciatingly haunting and intimate record, but in this year’s Swanlights the English born singer brings sweeping orchestras to aurally overwhelm and invigorate listeners.

Hegarty emotes with every fibre of his being; the timbre in his voice quivers with each word, his breathtaking falsetto is utterly engaging as it moves from a breathy whisper to become unfalteringly strong. His voice says more than the lyrics themselves; operatic but never overdramatic, Hegarty doesn’t attempt diva-esque vocal gymnastics to convey his talent but rather imitates the sounds of strings in crescendo in the background.

Musically, Hegarty has returned to a warm, all encompassing sound amiss from his last record, inviting in full orchestras of sound to create rich, ear tantalising soundscapes that soothe and stimulate concurrently. Thank You For Your Love is the sweetest of love songs as its pop melody meets Hegarty’s jubilant voice and sporadic horns spurt from the chorus.

Gone are the bleak solo vocal efforts of the past, Hegarty cries ‘I thank you!’ repeatedly with such gleeful enthusiasm, one cannot help but grin broadly by the song’s jaunty conclusion. Everything Is New is another rebirthing for our singer, but it’s the orgasmic double bill of Bjork and Hegarty on Flétta that is bound to have listeners hooked as two of the most unique modern voices collaborate, with only a simple piano refrain to accompany. Swanlights is stunning music from a true rebel of modern music.

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