The Black Swans 

Words Are Stupid

The animals are out in full force on The Black Swans' Words Are Stupid and, man, are they ever lethargic. That probably isn't surprising for fans of the sleepy-sounding Ohio folk-rockers. But the healthy dose of paranoia manifest in the 10 tracks might raise some eyebrows: It's potent enough that you can picture the whites of the conjured beasts' eyes as they search for unseen threats.

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The Black Swans' most recent LP—until they release Don't Blame The Stars in April—is a slow-burning record. Compared to previous efforts, there's less reliance on strings here. Instead, the album coasts on slow guitar strumming, slow bass plucking, slow drum beating—slow everything. The band has crafted a simple sound here, sure, but the songs never seem to require anything more.

And what a mena-gerie thrives within those songs. The album is themed around the deficiencies and misuse of human communication, and the dogs, cats, roosters and monkeys present in the songwriting help drive the message home. By portraying a world where meaningful human communication—and by extension, relationships—are inevitably doomed, the band's imitated crows and grunts are simultaneously amusing and terribly grim.

The Black Swans plays the Badlander Monday, Feb. 7, at 9 PM with Churchmouse and Stellarondo. Free.

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