Now on their third album, Leeds’ Post War Glamour Girls continue to purvey their own uncompromising brand of jagged post-punk on ‘Swan Songs’. The band display the same inordinate amount of workmanship and passion in their craft, even if little has changed from their previous work.
There is a slight progression, as much of this album opts for a more refined, subdued songwriting approach, with the eerie acoustic guitars on ‘Gull Rips A Worm’ and the slow build of ‘Organ Donor’. ‘Golden Time’ fully explores darker textures, becoming especially haunting when creepy synths are added about three-quarters of the way into the track.
But when they want to be, PWGG are still pleasantly bombastic, as opener ‘Guiding Light’ combines an upbeat tone, noisy guitars and vocalist James Smith’s best Ian Curtis impression to create something that’s slightly more than the sum of its parts. ‘Pollyanna Cowgirl’ is an album highlight that strikingly pairs an icy, gothic atmosphere with a sing-along hook ripped straight from the ’80s and works remarkably well.
The excellent vocal dynamic between Smith and Alice Scott is on full display on ‘Chipper’ and ‘Welfare by Prozac’, although this characteristic isn’t as prominent as it was on the band’s other releases, which is a shame. The uninteresting ballad ‘Sea of Rains’ is another one of the album’s few missteps.
‘Swan Songs’ ends on the sprawling, multi-faceted ‘Divine Decline’, which develops the spoken word elements introduced on ‘Pink Fur’’s ‘Brat’ , as well as highlighting Smith’s impressive crooning voice, offering a break from harsher tones found throughout. While its bleak lyricism and apocalyptic atmosphere end the album on a remarkably depressing note.
‘Swan Songs’ isn’t PWGG’s best work, but it shows the band continuing to charge down the path they carved out initially with ‘Pink Fur’, and is another great showcase of their talent.
‘Swan Songs’ by Post War Glamour Girls is released on 21st April on Hide & Seek.
Words by Alan Cunningham (@funeral_polis)