We have a soft spot for Black Swan Lane in the Review Corner. Their sound doesn’t change but they do what they do well; we should imagine they have a rabidly devoted fanbase (who must be delighted, it’s got to be several years since their last album).
Black Swan Lane is a US/UK indie rock band project founded in 2007 by Jack Sobel, John Kolbeck, and Mark Burgess (formerly of The Chameleons, now left BSL). They are website sponsors of non-league Didcot Town and sponsor the club’s first team shirt.
Sobel sings and has a deep, lugubrious voice that should be fronting a goth band. The lyrics can be dark: “I’m constantly here and always in fear”, “Stuck in a room, my heart’s a disease”, “My heart bleeds for revenge / So bring me back to life” but thanks to the music, it’s a far more joyful sound than it should be.
The rhythm section (Jerry Tew, bass, Jason Monseur, drums) is strong, so the songs have an underlying bounce; not quite danceable but a bit like The Smiths, in that no matter how sonorous the voice and dark the lyrics, the beat is up. The guitars (Sobel, Kolbeck) also shimmer — a comparison with Johnny Marr is unavoidable, as, like his playing, the guitars are complex and add to the tune more than most. There also seems to be more keys than in the past, giving it a fuller sound.
Relax and Breathe from their The Last Time in Your Light album has always been our favourite, and benchmark, and this new album sees them consistently hitting that standard, with hooks everywhere and lots of guitar. Not really one for standouts, it’s a play-from-start-to-finish album. A minor piece of wonderfulness.