“The UK-based experimentalists are back with a deliciously dark second album, and we just can’t get enough!”
Band: They Called Him Zone
Album: Crow Swan Wolf
For Fans Of: Joy Division // Bauhaus // New Order
Now I’ll admit, when I was first sent this album, I was a little skeptical. For whatever reason, it’s rare that an electronic record makes it onto my playlist, and even rarer for one to make a lasting impression. However, after just one listen through They Called Him Zone’s “Crow Swan Wolf”, I was pretty much hooked.
I’m a sucker for anything with an eighties’ flare, and there are definitely New-Wave elements across the whole record, from the minimalist drawl of the vocals to gorgeously wavy riffs that occasionally meander through the otherwise driving beats. All the trad-goth hallmarks are there too, with second track Just Fall especially evoking that throwback melancholy vibe.
However, to say they are an act preoccupied with eras past would be to sell them short. Opening offering Devil Dying is fresh and effortlessly cool, with only the guitars betraying just the barest hints of psychedelic groove. Paired with such sultry, self-indulgent lyrics, the self-assured melodies just shouldn’t work, but when the first instrumental hits it’s hard to deny how perfectly it all comes together.
Oh Well Nevermind is melancholy and aloof, whilst Only You is the closest the mini-album comes to flirting with radio-friendly pop appeal. However, both manage to take what should be standard fare in surprising directions, mastering an expert touch to elevate the tracks with only the smallest tweaks.
The last third is what really cements the record though. Waste You does exactly what you might expect, snarling at you in a perfectly orchestrated game of grit and grunge, so that when the darkly seductive Wish You Were Here hits, it does so with subtlety and earnestness you wouldn’t otherwise notice.
In short, this is a record that knows exactly what it set out to achieve, from two creators who know exactly when to lean on the conventions of their genre, and when to subvert them. Though perhaps a little one-note to those who are unfamiliar with its influences, for fans of dark-wave and goth rock it provides an incredibly nuanced listen, satisfying both the nostalgic itch and the wish for something new.
Crow Swan Witch is available for purchase from the duo’s Bandcamp from the 2oth of February, with both singles subject to a “name your price offer”. You can view their single below, but in the meantime let me know what you think in the comments, and don’t be afraid to leave your own musical discoveries there too!