The Wild Swans' Space Flower follows XTC (masquerading as the Dukes of Stratosphear) and the Damned into the more pop-oriented side of the '60s: the sort of area that could produce a three-minute single and a ten-minute hallucinogenic mind-blower. Pink Floyd got to be quite masterful at this aspect of things with Syd Barrett; the Moody Blues, too, used to be able to do this to a degree. Typically, the Wild Swans, with a somewhat softer sound than they've had previously, have followed in this rather English area, twenty-some years down the line. What you get for your money is a rather catchy collection of hook-driven numbers with titles like "Chocolate Bubblegum" and "I'm a Lighthouse," not to mention the royally absorbing "Sea of Tranquility," a track that ticks along on a rolling bassline, dispenses with vocals along the way, and proceeds to play sonic games that suck you in and make you wish it could have gone on lots longer than ten minutes. One of the factors in the Swans' favor is certainly an endearing simplicity. Where their songs have often been complex sonic tapestries, Space Flower shucks off the complexities in favor of a very '60s production -- even the sound effects utilized by Paul Simpson are low-key, with the exception of one that's truly startling on "Sea of Tranquility," while his trademark Mellotron, which has sometimes been as omnipresent as those on early King Crimson albums, is hardly to be heard on the album. It's great fun, very catchy, and probably great for parties. Now, if they could just do something about that wretched cover...
Space Flower Review
by Steven McDonald