Antony and the Johnsons - Swanlights (4 stars)

Antony and the Johnsons - Swanlights

(Rough Trade)

As with Antony Hegarty’s three prior albums, Swanlights forages the natural world, yet bears unearthly fruit.

It is typically impelled by his dramatic vocals: they scale astral heights; plunge aquatic depths and entwine themselves around Bjork on the hair-raising, pared-back duet, ‘Fletta’.

Often touching on love and death – via female messiahs and flying horses – Swanlights is testament to the compact disc (or MP3, even) as artistic medium and theatrical device: the record’s unbroken succession of stark piano ballads, minimalist torch-songs and measured philharmonic-pop guides us to, and from, Swanlights’ drone-woozy title track and centrepiece. The effect is spellbinding.

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