Swing Out Sister

Filth and Dreams

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AllMusic Review by Nick Dedina

In 1999, after utilizing a full band and employing a richer, more organic sound with their previous three releases, Swing Out Sister returned to the more keyboard-driven approach of their first two albums with Filth and Dreams. Despite the look back, this is an infinitely stronger album than their earlier releases, with the band more melodically creative, sonically eccentric, and confident than they were when they were earning placements on the adult contemporary charts back in the late '80s and early '90s. One of the album's strengths is that vocalist Corinne Drewery has completely abandoned her periodic tendency to pen positive affirmations instead of more personal lyrics. For these songs, probably the strongest batch the band ever penned, Drewery embraces both abstraction and British sense of melancholy more fully. Likewise, multi-instrumentalist Andy Connell and longtime producer Paul Staveley O'Duffy are able to capture the 1960s and early-'70s soft pop sounds that Swing Out Sister love so much yet make them sound natural when juxtaposed with darker modern club touches. This approach is most readily apparent on the album's highlights: First there's "Happy When You're High," which finds Drewery chanting "good things are fast becoming a thing of the past" over a downtempo drum loop and a languid, trippy, Fender Rhodes solo. Next is the dark-night-of-the-soul ballad "Invisible," which is highlighted by a surprisingly raw, emotionally naked vocal from a singer is is usually so utterly refined and elegant--and in the past compared wrongly by lazy critics to Basia. Filth and Dreams was only released in Japan, where Swing Out Sister continued to top the charts, long after their American and European streak ended. Certainly this is a shame considering how many fans the band continues to have in the 21st century on both sides of the Atlantic, but it's even a greater tragedy because it's among their most consistent albums: it's an emotionally dark and musically adventurous record that offers a drama they've never displayed before.

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