Don’t you hate it when an amazing band releases one stellar album and then disappears off the map leaving virtually no trace whatsoever? That’s more or less what happened to Minnesota’s The Swoon. This intelligent, artsy, literate (one of the band’s song titles is a Dante reference) band made up one third of Christian jangle-pop’s ‘holy trinity’ (also including The Throes and The Walk).
Their debut album was released on Narrowpath Records, in conjunction with Refuge (the obscure indie label also released such classics as debuts by Breakfast with Amy and The Crucified), and was made up of two earlier cassette-only demos, ben son, ben son Beatrice and Neverland, the latter of which was produced by Charlie Peacock. They’d started out in the mid-80s as Restricted Access and then morphed into The Swoon somewhere around 1988. What baffles me to this day is how such an interesting, non-mainstream band came from the remote corners of rural southwestern Minnesota.
If I’m honest, the album was a slow burner for me. I first heard it around 1992 or so, or roughly a year after it came out when a friend let me borrow the cassette. I was mostly into metal and hard alternative at the time, so it didn’t really resonate with me. Fast forward a few years and I obtained a copy of the CD for myself–a few more years of being exposed to varying kinds of music for me had passed by then. I fell it love with the album almost instantly. It’s funny what a few years and a second listen can do. To this day it’s a desert island disc for me!
“Sweet Ally” is a piano-led indie pop composition about falling in love with a girl who was a tightrope performer at the circus. The sentiment is either downright silly or youthfully romantic. Most days I lean towards the second one. The piano ‘solo’ (if you can call it that) starting at the 2:00 mark slays me!
Not long after the album was released, the band broke up and went in different directions. There were always rumors about what had happened, normally circulating among the few of us hardcore, cult-like fans. According to some, a falling out with producer Charlie Peacock had resulted in their demise. To others, the band members had abandoned the faith and dissipated. Interestingly enough, just recently I found out one of the former members in fact an ordained minister.
A few weeks ago, the rumor mill started spinning again, but fortunately for us, this time the stories are true! Plans have surfaced for a re-issue of the debut album, and possibly a first-time release for the posthumous Spectacular Illusions. They’ve recently put together a really fun little website with memoirs, stories, live recordings, photos and bootleg videos. Have a look here: https://theswoon.band/