The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Swan Lake settles into form with ‘Enemy Mine’

Swan Lake is a super-group comprised of three of the most prolific musicians in the independent music scene, Dan Bejar (of Destroyer and the New Pornographers), Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes, Blackout Beach), and Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown).

Swan Lake’s second release, “Enemy Mine,” finds the trio creating a much more organized, cohesive, and purposeful work than on their first album, “Beast Moans.”

“Beast Moans” was a musical orgy; each musician overstretched his abilities and overstepped the other artist’s boundaries, which ultimately caused the album to collapse under its own weight. Like a musical buffet, each musician threw everything they had to offer into the platter of “Beast Moans;” needless to say, the result was an anxiety-inducing record that was obnoxiously cramped and rather uncomfortable.

Luckily, on “Enemy Mine,” Swan Lake pulls back a little on the quantity of content, re-shifting their focus, instead, on quality. The stripped down sound of the trio’s sophomore album is a breath of fresh air.

This new approach creates plenty of space for each artist’s talents to flourish, while still allowing room for the eclectic experimentation that each musician obviously wants to indulge in.

“Enemy Mine” is more organized than its predecessor, which reflects the group’s intention to create a more deliberate and well-designed piece. This is no more apparent than in the fact that each artist is allotted three tracks in which he is allowed to play the primary role (there are nine tracks in total).

In a time when most celebrated albums are accompanied with a difficult nature, “Enemy Mine” is of a rare breed. It is refreshing to encounter an album that is so easily accessible and enjoyable, even upon one’s initial listen – this is certainly a luxury rarely enjoyed by most indie-music admirers.

In fact, as translucent as “Enemy Mine” is, it’s surprising that the album is still capable of maintaining that manic edge that fans expect from these three musicians.

Swan Lake carries with it a dark feel, there’s something sinister about the album’s final product. Bejar’s lyrics eerily dance and twist throughout, Mercer’s wails screech and echo, and Krug’s keyboard work comes off more like the result of a haunted piano than a modern electronic instrument.

The eerie theme that manifests itself in “Enemy Mine” is in many ways the album’s most intriguing trait; after all, there’s something about the cryptic that demands constant attention and curious observation.

I believe it is this peculiar aspect, above all else, that will keep you coming back to the spectacle that is “Enemy Mine.”

“Enemy Mine” boasts a strong and well-constructed nine track set. Furthermore, it contains what may very well be the catchiest song of the year, “Paper Lace” – a rich and alluring ballad that finds the trio collaborating to perfection. In fact, there is only one slip-up in the set; unfortunately, it comes at the worst possible time: the end. The song in question, “Warlock Psychologist,” epitomizes everything that went wrong with “Beast Moans” and finds Swan lake slipping back into their bad habits. The lyrics/vocals are jumbled and hard to decipher, the melodies over-layered, and anything that could even possibly be construed as song structure is blatantly absent.

It’s disappointing that “Enemy Mine’s” only misstep comes at its closing, which in some cases, will allow the album to leave a bad after-taste in many a listener’s mind.

“Enemy Mine’s” only other blemish is that the album is unusually short; at roughly thirty-nine minutes. Many listeners will likely be left unsatisfied.

Thankfully, “Enemy Mine” is such a strong showing that its few weaknesses are easily forgiven in light of its many strengths.

Regrettably, it is the details, that is, the nuances that the album lacks, that separate a good record from a great one. Still, with “Enemy Mine,” Swan Lake is assuredly headed in the right direction.

Final Score: 8.2

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