I was anxiously awaiting the release of the third album by Push/Button/Press given that Spectacle 1 (2018) was an Unlit essential album that year, we just weren’t even close to being online yet. It was played endlessly and the cover featured a large black and white pbp logo with clean and polished musical lines floating against a grey day sky. It was a cleaner glossy move and a very different look from their self-titled 2015 debut, perhaps poised for more mainstream appeal. So when Black Swan finally dropped with it’s black and blue bruise toned artwork, the change in direction was striking, stepping back towards something unpolished, grittier, so much so I even checked to see if they were still with Cold Transmission Music – and they were. Putting my headphones on with great anticipation, I suspected their moody blend of ’80s synth-goth was about to get an overhaul and I was right.
The End of Time kicks things off in high gear right from the gate with a dirtier grittier sound with pounding drums and driving 90’s goth rock guitar. It sounds an immediate alarm that pbp has indeed evolved. Jim Walker’s vocals remain dark, if not darker, singing, “Drag ourselves through the fire, dancing until the end of the time, clenched in fear for what will come, for in the end we are alone.” The second song Trace continues on this driving high energy path as well to win me over instantly and remains my favorite Black Swan to date (video below). Track 3, Vril, is excellent as well as contrasts come together and I just melt when they sing “tragedy awaits in strange and subtle ways… how heartless can it be.”
Dim features a sing along chorus for the disenchanted, with a hook that can get stuck in your head: “What difference can it make, it all grows dimmer every day.” DieSeele’s Nick Drivas agrees, noting a “singalong chorus, that to me, could have been something from the Killing Joke in their mid 80’s.” Next up, Broken Faces delivers a dreamier sound that’s coupled with tales of deeper underlying torment. Then the title track, Black Swan, brings back the goth rock drive with another singalong chorus: “It can’t go on like this for long!”
Spectacle kicks off the final third of the album with a lighter sound, not that the mood gets any lighter. Walker sings, “Thoughts are drained and emptiness like the scenes of dreams undone, the nostalgia for another’s time, the negation of another’s mind.” On Scars (Within Walls) and Cold as the Ground That Lie Above Me, both of which close the album, we are the melodies are strong – tying the bow on a winner of an album. The final fadeout only left me waiting for and wanting more.
Push/Button/Press are from Tampa, Florida, with a sound that echoes the vacant cigar factories and empty storefronts, that haunts the cities secret smugglers’ tunnels laying long abandoned beneath the streets, calling forth to the surrounding shotgun homes, Bolita games and urban decay. In an interview regarding Black Swan White Light/White Heat asks, “It seems all doom and gloom, is there any sparkle of light at the end of the tunnel or some sort of cathartic way through turmoil and despair?” The band’s answer: “No, unfortunately not. The best we can do is live every moment to the fullest and take nothing for granted.”