The Swell Season, 'Strict Joy' (Anti-)

Critical Mass
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by David Peisner

If Glen Hansard's and Markéta Irglová's roles in the hit Irish indie film Once unintentionally wove the tale of their real-life falling in love, their second album as the Swell Season weaves the story of their falling out of it. Strict Joy is a glorious bummer. Hansard accomplishes what has seemed like his life's goal for years -- to write a tune that could've fit on Van Morrison's Moondance ("Low Rising"), and it's not even the best song here. Heartache swells from these swooning folk-pop tunes, but the presence of both of the relationship's combatants ensures that they never drown in it.

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