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Swan of the times

Two years ago, Paul Simpson announced the return of THE WILD SWANS on his MySpace site. Over the course of a stormy career the group managed to produce just one single, Revolutionary Spirit, in 1981 - five ecstatic minutes of loose, classy pop, an exaggeratedly ingenuous melodic fantasy. And we all thought that’d be the end of that. Ego battles led to them all going their separate ways to attend to other matters (guitarist Jem Kelly and keyboard player Ged Quinn enjoyed success with The Lotus Eaters, Simpson teamed up fleetingly with Ian Broudie in Care). Then came the first resurrection in 1986, although apparently it was more like a nightmare than a long-cherished dream. They released two albums without much to write home about, according to the man principally responsible for them. Since 1990, the elusive Simpson, who’s the kind of singer to make even Morrissey feel self-conscious, had been working solo, either under his own name or in the guise of Skyray, an ambient pro-ject which was also... instrumental. Now, just as we were all starting to think the latest return was purely a figment of his imagination, the man "aiming to recapture the group’s original spirit" has smoothed away any bitterness, recalled Quinn to the fold and recruited other musicians such as American Ricky Maymi (joint founder of The Brian Jonestown Massacre) and former Spiritualized member Mike Mooney. Above all, as though Enchanted, he’s engaged once again with that tightrope-walking grace and those dizzyingly fragile songs, imbued with a magical neo-Romanticism. Heralded by a 10" single of absolute purity, English Electric Lightning, the album The Coldest Winter For A Hundred Years is about to be completed and already it’s looking like the miracle of the year and - if there’s any justice - it might finally allow the Wild Swans to take wing.

• The Wild Swans English Electric Lightning (Occultation/import)


Extract from Magic RPM no. 132, June 2009

Original French