Cock and Swan – Stash

Posted by on April 25th, 2012 at 9:00 AM

StashScore: 8.5/10
Cock and Swan
Lost Tribe Sound

Cock and Swan‘s new album Stash gave me the BEST dreams. Not that it put me to sleep; the band simply has a deep hypnotic force that is difficult to resist. Singer Ola Hungerford’s leisurely coo soothes and the arrangements are suitably sparse, washing over us in sporadic waves.

The reverie begins with “Sneak Close” and its wonderfully expressive use of sustained guitar string rattle, bringing sizzling intimacy to the opening of the album. Title track “Stash”, a reprise from the Unrecognize EP, ambles onward like a late night drive, keeping you awake with some sprightly stick work. Referencing elements of Western movie soundtracks and Native American music with wooden flutes and wordless pentatonic chants, the song is elevated to grander scale like a sweeping helicopter shot of the desert.

“Raging Chisel” is exemplary of the kind of song that gets under your jaded skin, provoking flutters in that cynical, black heart. It has that indescribable ability to invoke simultaneous feelings of ecstasy and sweet misery. “Happy Thoughts” sounds just as one might assume: a sleepy, Prozac-loving lilt complemented by sweet, simple clarinet lines, with the long string buzzing of “Sneak Close” making a return. It’s hard to imagine a better accompaniment to sleepy, post-coital bliss with a brand new love.

The album stays at this drowsy tempo until “Tectonic Plates” begins to boil with rolling toms, leading up to Stash’s most driving song, “Unrecognized”. Although halting, the insistent rhythm of “Unrecognized” lifts the experience into a more wakeful state. This is also a vast improvement, in terms of recording quality, on the version that appeared on the Unrecognize EP.

“Unrecognized” turns out to be a momentary energy surge however, as “Unserious” lulls us back to the meditative near-melancholy that remains the emotional anchor of the record. Delicious, semi-despondent tranquility never quite leaves us, certainly not at dawn as evoked by “Orange and Pink”, where ghostly piano echoes slowly over washy cymbals.

Although at this point the dreaminess has become just more of the same, Cock and Swan could be commended for creating an album almost entirely composed of songs of sluggish tempos that still never gets boring. In Stash, Cock and Swan are thinking behind the wheel, and their slow ride is best suited to unhurried among us.



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