Two Steps on the Water : Sword Songs
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Two Steps on the Water : Sword Songs

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Literally within the first 30 second. Things don’t exactly get any better from there for all ye who enter here – Sword Songs, as its title may suggest, is an album of sharp and combative tracks; ready to strike at the most opportune moment.

‘Bolt of Lightning’ is urgent and belligerent in its delivery, Jones’ vocals quivering to a near-breaking point; while ‘Venom’ soothes with its harmonies and instantly-memorable refrain before lashing out in orchestral dissonance in its tail-end. Arriving just over a year after their debut LP, Jones and co. have channelled even broader arrangements into Sword Songs, in turn creating some of their most powerful and uncompromising tracks to date.

‘Hold Me’, the second single from the record, is a sax-swinging funeral dirge; Jones openly aches atop its mournful organ and spaced-out drums. Violinist Sienna Thornton thrives, too, transforming closer ‘Can I Not?’ into an art-rock avalanche worthy of a classic Dirty Three LP.

It’s a lot to take in on first listen, but Sword Songs offers remarkable reward to repeated listens. In time, one of the year’s greatest long-players will present itself – just as 2016’s God Forbid Anyone Look Me in the Eye did. After all, as Jones sings in ‘Camouflage’: “If you’re feeling terrified/It can help to be a little terrifying.”

8.5/10