Release Date: Nov 21, 2006
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Canada has certainly been the hot spot for indie bands in the new millennium, so the fact that the singers from three of the biggest (Dan Bejar from Destroyer, Spencer Krug from Wolf Parade, and Carey Mercer from Frog Eyes) came together in Swan Lake has been -- while perhaps not much of a surprise (the idea of a "collective" being quite a popular idea up north, coupled with the fact that the three have been working together in some form or another for the past few years) -- enough to thoroughly excite the hipsters, who, anxiously awaiting its release, were forced to sustain themselves on the two songs, "All Fires" and "City Calls," from on the group's MySpace site. Fortunately, Beast Moans should thoroughly satisfy these malnourished fans. As a group, Swan Lake writes songs that have more cacophony and less form than what any of the three writers produced individually: they have structure, but it's a structure based on how the layers define it instead of how the structure defines the layers.
For what it's worth, the boringly collegiate figure of Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog of Hades, was the first image that put Beast Moans into any kind of manageable context for me. It's not really hard to get there: Swan Lake, a Canadian bug-eyed troubadour supergroup made up of Destroyer's Dan Bejar, Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug, and Frog Eyes' Carey Mercer, is as three-headed a beast as they come, and the moans of their debut – the tortured, malnourished melodies and the strained, bilious atmospherics – sound distinctly hellish. Beast Moans is ugly, joyfully and unapologetically so, but just as the gatekeeper doesn't sum up the complexities of hell, there has to be something to it beyond ugliness.