Most often, indie supergroups tend to lack luster -- more a sum of their parts than a cohesive whole -- and end up diluting the involved individuals' true artistic vision. This is not the case with Swan Lake.
While what is surely to remain a studio project, and most likely a single outing, Daniel Bejar (Destroyer), Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade), and Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes) have actualized a new summation of form with Beast Moans that their well respected "full-time projects" would have trouble metamorphosing.
Their cumulative influence, along with a healthy dose of inspiration via Animal Collective, makes Beast Moans seem poised to stand alongside the aforementioned as a pop take on noisy experimental rock.
Loaded with jagged guitar, abrasive percussion, smoldering keys, dueling vocals and plenty of sonic flourishes, Swan Lake offers a journey through the looking glass and a soar through murky, cavernous hillsides and spectacularly bright clouds. It's a bumpy ride, but ultimately a rewarding one.
-- DARCY CAPUTO
DOWNLOAD: "Widow's Walk"
Fuzzy guitar, synths, glam hooks, falsetto harmonizing, lead vocals that are by turns Axl-Rose-ian and Haggar-esque. El Presidente is, in some ways, everything smart pop will be five minutes from now.
The high points, "Without You" and "Rocket," are well-crafted and would probably make my ass move involuntarily if I weren't sitting on it the whole time I listened to the album. "100 mph," though, fails with too much gimmickry and gadgetry, too-precious vocals drowned out by bleeps and blaps.
Though the disco, the flamboyance, the androgyny and the clear Elton John worship have drawn comparisons to Scissor Sisters (most egregiously in the press materials), El Presidente is nowhere near as pervy. Nor is it so indulgent. The band has created a very clean, safe debut record, never attaining the clear, crisp, crassly clever heights of Scissor Sister's "Take Your Mama" but never sinking to the cringe-inducing "Filthy/Gorgeous".
So it's more even, but perhaps inevitably, it feels less organic as well. More even, less conviction. It's capable, just not inspired.
-- LUKE BAUMGARTEN