Boomkat Product Review:
Psychedelic Australian pop collective The Rational Academy return for a second album on Lawrence English's Someone Good label - an offshoot of Room40 that specialises in all things avant-pop. English himself contributes to this record (as as he did on the band's debut, A Heart Against Your Own) helping to sculpt the band's sound with a little experimental production finesse. Swans is fractured into rather small chunks, with many tracks clocking in at under two minutes, but this sort of idea-hopping is what makes The Rational Academy such a captivating project. 'Unsolved Mysteries' introduces the record with an energised blast of guitar jangle, while 'Teen Diethylamide' hints at the more abstract, pastoral climes to come with threads of sustaining guitar and beds of organ tone giving shape to the song. Soon you find yourself swept up in a full on drone sequence, carving out filtered ambience through '12 Feet In Cheltenham' only for shorter, ghostly experiments to glide into the mix with 'Oak Hill' and the vaporous coda 'Yoko I'm Only Dancing'. This band are at their best when they manage to intermingle more structured songwriting into these soundscapes, as is the case on the brilliant 'Summer Husbands', which truly seems to balance the sonic richness of English's solo work with a more structural mode of composition that befits vocal melodies. Likewise, 'A New Berlin' - complete with shimmering background noise and decayed slide guitar solos - takes what might otherwise be a musically conventional, fingerpicked acoustic ballad into arrestingly brilliant new directions.