Hopelessness (Secretly Canadian)
More than just a rebranding for the singer once known as Antony Hegarty, ANOHNI’s new Hopelessness is a complete reimagining of the English-born songwriter’s craft. While her work with the Johnsons on albums I Am a Bird Now and The Crying Light often wrapped chamber pop around intimate explorations of the self, the all-electronic Hopelessness explodes with global vision.
Gone are the organic arrangements of past work, here replaced with conceptually twisted beats and melodic squelches from electronic producers Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never. ANOHNI’s voice, however, with its immaculate vibrato, remains a soul-enveloping sound rivalled by none.
“4 Degrees” shimmers with faux synth-and-brass soundscaping as ANOHNI’s environmentally minded narrative envisions a horrifying, postglobal-warming landscape of belly-up sea creatures, scorched lemurs, and more. No matter how hearty and beautiful the artist’s voice sounds, there’s a violent nature to her words on clap-happy slow jam “Drone Bomb Me” and sister song “Crisis”, which ruminates on Guantanamo torture scenes and terrorist beheadings.
Warm synth tones offer a New Age calmness to ANOHNI’s nominal debut, but her musings on nation-states, the slowly crumbling Earth, and humanity’s more despicable tendencies make it a rather dark affair. All the same, Hopelessness has never sounded so sweet.