Friday, March 17, 2017

Anohni - Paradise Review

Believe it or not, 2016's Hopelessness made its mark well being the dawning of America's latest president. With how despondent, forlorn, and pessimistic the record was, you'd be shocked to know none of it revolved around Donald Trump or those that elected him. Hell, even 'Obama,' the song denouncing a president Anthony Hegarty once thought was great of instigating illegal and immoral practices, seems trivial by comparison. Talk of detainees, drone warfare, execution, masculinity, global warming, and surveillance spying littered the Electropop record, making it quite easily the most abrasive and unapologetically political dance record known to man. For that reason alone, Hopelessness found a place in my collection. Production meshes by Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never didn't hurt either. A succinct clash of catchiness and politics that pummeled you for even having the audacity to dance at a time like this. Being that Paradise is formed from the same brains, the ideas are similar. However, Hopelessness was a ticking time bomb, one more move and the whole thing explodes. There's no denying Hegarty has more to say, with a trove of talking points centered around the US government, but Hopelessness was so overwhelming anything more is unwanted excess. Paradise, unintentionally, represents that apathy.

With Hopelessness, while the sins of humanity plagued every corner, the record's close, 'Marrow,' seemed to instill hope for the future. That's at the crux of any good work of art centered around the futile efforts of civilized society; to pretend as if it'll all be okay. It's quite telling then, that Paradise isn't like that. While many fought back against Donald Trump's presidency after the fact had already come to fruition, many others felt the stern force of dejection. In other words, they had given up. And while Hegarty, a political activist in every sense, certainly isn't doing that by releasing music aimed at revealing darker secrets, Paradise is grave enough to feel as if there's no light at the end of the tunnel. Or, even worse, one painted on a false wall we'll soon run directly into. Unlike many EP's, which act as a collection of outtakes, Paradise seems to fit the mold of a mini-album, with a near-instrumental intro and solemn, spoken word outro. The female voice tailing off the EP speaks of a better world while condemning our own. There's no power in her voice, just fear and worry. 

That sentiment is reflected in Paradise's previous six songs. The title track finds Trap-influenced hi-hats and bass smack the wall under Hegarty wishing for a better world. With this track, and a few others, Hegarty takes aim at the aggression of a fragile male ego, something she doesn't shy away from. "My mother's love, her gentle touch, my father's hand, rests on my throat" paints quite the clear picture, as does the nine crying females withering in pain on the cover. 'Jesus Will Kill You' finds Hegarty in distress over the exploits of the 1% under the guise of religion, despite defying acts Jesus would cherish. 'You Are My Enemy' is a continuation of that idea, but with a broader scope of capitalism and the evolution of greed. They're sound ideas, but, once again, spell out a doomsday scenario in which we've already passed the point of no return. "I gave birth to my own enemy," Hegarty wails, fully aware of the writing on the wall. It's sad, and while Electropop still plays a prominent role, the catchiness has taken a significant backseat. 'Ricochet' is, by far, the most enjoyable track here with thunderous drums and screeching backing vocals, but even that complete effort can't dissuade the somber tone engulfing the EP. Hopelessness worked because political activism had a resounding rallying cry. On Paradise, the latter half's missing.

No comments:

Post a Comment