Music » CD Reviews

The Gentle Waves

Swansong for You (Jeepster)


On Swansong for You, Isobel Campbell drops the pseudo-Christian folk harmonies of her main musical outlet, Belle & Sebastian, to tackle that nasty four-letter word -- love. But don't think she's abandoned twee-pop altogether; her second album under the Gentle Waves moniker is as tumultuous as a tempest, and the somber transcendental melodies that made her first endeavor, The Green Fields of Foreverland, a mind-numbing, hypnotic bore have been amplified by the brooding lament of a woman scorned. Sure, Swansong for You has that typical B&S folk jingle, but Campbell's schoolgirl-like warble is finally affixed to sundry different sounds.

"Sisterwoman" and "Falling from Grace" rock with the kitschy drumrolls and electric guitar that made "Weathershow," the '60s rock homage, the only bright spot on Campbell's first record. "You make me satisfied/You only want to ride/But that's all right by me," sighs Campbell, as a Hammond organ and horns dance in "Falling from Grace." Cinematic soundscapes, deep bells, and a corporal drum riff give "Partner in Crime" the feel of epic conflict, and "There Was Magic, Then . . . " embarks slowly, before spilling over with sweeping percussion and violin -- a perfect ending for the 10-song album. "Solace for Pain," "Let the Good Times Begin," and "Loretta Young" sway with her distinctively sluggish and good-natured sound, but the content is more ominous. Campbell croons "Bad lovin's always been the same/He'll push it in, then push you out" ("Sisterwoman") and "Your heart is broken, so broken/With a broom from the wall, sweep it away" ("Loretta Young"). The transformation from the sweet, fluid sounds of Green Fields -- and even some of Belle & Sebastian's songbook -- is sublime on Swansong.

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