Consisting of a four-piece lineup -- Mosimann on drums, Westberg on guitar, Harry Crosby on bass, and naturally Gira on vocals -- on their second full album Swans add even more vicious crunch to their basic approach, resulting in quite possibly one of the darkest recordings ever done. Gira's words come across a little more forcefully and cleanly than before, and the existential horror shows that he details, almost always phrased in confessional/accusatory "I - you" terms, make up in sheer power what they lack in any kind of subtlety. For example, typical lyrics, from the snarling "Your Property" state: "I give you money -- you're superior. I don't exist. You control me." Matching his at-times unearthly moans and cries perfectly, the pounding music mostly consists of one slow, descending chord progression or a repetitive series of one or two notes after another, extending the power of loud feedback and amped drums to indescribably forceful effect. The opening grind alone on "Why Hide," as Westberg stretches out his strings behind Mosimann and Crosby's pummeling, is crushing enough before Gira delivers a harrowing vocal. The most legendary track from the album is the title cut; as a vicious anti-boys-in-blue rant finds its equal only in N.W.A.'s "Fuck Da Police." With such thoroughly bilious Gira lines as "Nobody rapes you like a cop in jail" providing the mental pictures, a slow, steady punch of music gets slowly but surely more aggressive and destructive as the song unfolds to its raging conclusion. Jim Thirlwell, aka Foetus, helps contribute to the apocalyptic noise on the release, but you somehow figure that Swans would have reached this state quite well on their own regardless. Ugly, compelling, and overpowering, Cop remains the pinnacle of Swans' brutal early days.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett