Sweeping Promises Dread the Easy Life on 'Good Living Is Coming for You'

BY Kate ShepherdPublished Jun 29, 2023

When Sweeping Promises' Hunger for a Way Out dropped midway through 2020, it almost seemed as though the post-punk duo's debut had materialized out of the ether as an antidote to, if not a product of, lockdown-induced malaise. 

Thanks in equal parts to the urgency of Lira Mondal's vocals and Caufield Schnug's taut instrumentation, the album tapped into a sense of collective anxiety and artfully expressed a need for release that felt all too relatable. Written and recorded before the pandemic's onset, its message felt, in many ways, eerily prescient. On their sophomore effort, Good Living Is Coming for You, Mondal and Schnug are again looking ahead, but this time around, the scenery feels more sinister and the ambient sense of dread is sharper. 

Thankfully, though, the result is no less dynamic than its predecessor. Their latest offering crackles with the same frenetic energy, despite a change in scenery that saw the previously Boston-based team decamping to rural Kansas. Their lo-fi, single-mic recording approach has also evolved, but the immediacy it evoked remains; Mondal's alternately piercing and hypnotic vocals are once again more than up to the challenge of slicing through the reverb to match Schnug's angular guitars. 

From the first sweet, sing-song bars of album opener "Eraser," to the harrowed howl punctuating the verses of the title track, Mondal's voice animates the often dystopian visions that their lyrics explore. Insistent rhythms and meticulously layered sounds that could feel clinical instead vibrate with human intensity, and each flourish — a saxophone's wail, a robotic chirp — landing with perfectly calculated weight. 

But despite the often playful backdrop, their predictions that an optimized existence is just around the corner are marked not with a sense of eager anticipation, but with paranoia and unease. From the outset, tech-age efficiency and violence seem to go hand-in-hand; "My Eraser" assesses the titular entity with mingled fear and awe, as she ruthlessly wipes away anything in her path. Later, the paradox at the centre of "Walk in Place" leans into the image of a wave sweeping us forward, even as Mondal expresses a feeling of paralysis amidst the changes she sees around her. The track's bouncy, arcade-game cadence defies the frustration and sense of inevitability in its message, the feeling that we "can't go against the current."

The duo's lyrics also frequently return to a mistrust of built environments, from an interior that's "designed to make you nervous" to "five stories going up" to produce another grey, concrete block. When Mondal laments the urban sprawl replacing an existing landscape, the growth she refers to sounds metastatic rather than progressive. The good life, it seems clear, comes at a steep price, and the march to reach it is unrelenting.

Perhaps the most obvious clue to that end is right in the album's title: good living is coming for, not to us, like a monster from out of the shadows rather than a gift, a threat more than a promise. Sweeping Promises view it with suspicion, but they offer glimpses of hope too, and a sense of fun that prevents the message from feeling bleak. The result is a vibrant, captivating record that feels like both a wake-up call and a persuasive invitation to resist a culture of consumption and commodification — of space, time, and even ourselves. 
(Sub Pop)

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