The music of Swoone seems lost in time. It is, frankly, similar to lots of what front-woman Siobhan de Mare brought to her previous bands Mono and Violet Indiana, but it is also richly-rewarding stuff. Created with band-mate Gary Bruce, the tunes here on the debut from Swoone, Handcuffed Heart, out on Friday via Saint Marie Records, ache with emotion, and glide past on washes of evocative keyboard figures.
I suppose an easier way to review Handcuffed Heart would be to simply say that, yes, it does sound enough like Mono and Violet Indiana to please long-time fans of Siobhan de Mare. But that would be reductive. "This Bullet Never Kills" also sounds remarkably like Portishead, nods in the direction of soundtrack music abounding here. The title cut edges even closer to that sort of thing, while the far better "The Sun Has Died" sees that kind of music enlivened by real emotion in Siobhan's vocals. It's an odd effect here, one that owes as much to, say, Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder as it does to Shirley Manson and Butch Vig, and one could imagine this track being a Top 40 hit in another world, another era. Elsewhere, there are faint hints of soul music anchoring the lovely "Run" and the plaintive "Set Me Free", while the eerie "Strange Love" conjures up echoes of Shirley Bassey and John Barry. Lots of Handcuffed Heart is like that, and if one could fault the record for having too much of one thing in its grooves, at least it's a wildly-intoxicating brand of music that's being offered here.
There is lots to love on Handcuffed Heart and fans of the singer will surely love this record as much as I did, if not more. A worthy successor to the music of Violent Indiana, Swoone's Handcuffed Heart will be out on Friday via Saint Marie Records.
More details on Swoone via the band's official Facebook page.
[Photo: Uncredited promo photo]