The Blue Aeroplanes

Swagger

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It may seem like a slightly boastful title, but Swagger is anything but an attitude-laden in-your-face rip, and all the better for it as well. By the time the Aeroplanes decided to take a chance on major-label existence, their combination of poetic ramalama and neo-guitar jangle and shake had been well established, so Swagger was, if anything, merely a polishing of the group's form rather than any radical leap. Gil Norton's production definitely has a pitch towards sounding good on the radio, but Langley's poems are still generally dead set against easy singalong, no matter how much the music lends itself to just that. His delivery is nonetheless quite attractive, and on songs like the lead single "World View Blue," his ruminative approach slips alongside the low-key grooves and guitar strums just so. When they want to, the Aeroplanes can turn up the heat, avoiding full-on sludge for a combination of electric force and quick, liquid playing. The complex melody line on "And Stones" and the exultant rush of "Love Come Round" are two instances of many. Bruschini, Allen, and Lee come up with any number of lovely melodies and performances throughout the record; to cite one instance of many, the descending chords on "Weightless" add a perfect drama to Langley's depiction of future shock. Allen himself takes the singing lead on "Careful Boy," a nice mandolin-touched piece. The core rhythm section of McCreeth and John Langley goes about its business well, adding in brief touches of flair or flash when needed. Echoes of the group's inspirations perhaps inevitably crop up -- a musical quote of "Sweet Jane" here, hints of the Byrds there -- but the one open source of inspiration used is a smart one. "The Applicant" sets one of Sylvia Plath's poems to music, Langley delivering the sharp lyrics with bite while the music keeps up the album's electric rush with style.

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