Change!, the sophomore album by Ohio’s Black Swans, is an exercise in sameness and staleness, of sounds and ideas that emphatically declare themselves background noise. Frontman Jerry DeCicca tries to be earnest, backed by moody strings and other likewise lethargic instrumentation, but along with his flat Leonard Cohen impersonation, it all comes out feeling dry and ineffective.
For mood music, however — that is to say, if we presuppose that Change! strives to be what it ultimately is — the album is startling effective. If it is, in fact, DeCicca’s intention to fade into the rear speaker of the listener’s periphery, left to linger unnoticed on a conscious level but rather to subtly affect the scenery of what’s in front of the listener, then he has succeeded greatly. As a sonic landscape, it works, but with the understandable caveat that the album, from start to finish, would benefit from some other sensory stimuli to lean on — say the tender, reflective moments of a movie or television show. When Change! is looked at as a stand-alone piece, it doesn’t end up standing at all.