'Strict Joy' is the second album [excluding the Once soundtrack] from The Swell Season and was released at the end of last month worldwide. The Swell Season seem to have been touring non stop since the big Oscar win with only taking short breaks. They are understandably riding the crest of the Oscar wave and making sure they get their music out there to the wider world.
It is within this context that 'Strict Joy' has to be taken. It's more of a retrospective album bringing together the labour of the band's work for the last three or four years. Many of the songs have featured in set-lists of previous tours and are already well known by fans of the band. It also needs to be acknowledged that 'Strict Joy' hasn't been well received in Ireland and I can offer no reason why.
There are songs about being in love and the end of a relationship. If you don't get the male perspective then there's always the female perspective on love life and relationships. The production is top rate and there's no over indulgence on the album. It's an album of good quality folk-rock music performed by musicians with a love for music.
'Low Rising' is such a great uplifting tune. 'Feeling the Pull' is the sound of a band having the time of their lives. I love the 70's folk inspired feel to 'Love That Conquers' and would rival the splendid 'I Have Loved You Wrong' as the best track on the album. Overall the quality is really good but there is something that is missing on the album. 'Strict Joy' is like a collection of individual songs composed over a long time period rather than an album of cutting edge new music from a band making progress in the music world.
The Swell Season - Strict Joy [9 out of 12]
....... I may be wrong but I'm gonna predict that in early 2011 The Frames will have a new album out as well as Marketa releasing her debut solo album. If I'm right I'll have two great albums to review into the future!