Dancing delicately and painfully between seduction and frenzy, this album is a slap in the face. It’s an evocative power play that is smooth and aggressive and has awaited no permission. Annie Clarke, working closely with producer Jack Antonoff, was encouraged (or so I heard… somewhere) to focus more on the lyrical structure of this album rather than playing on every single song, something that I would imagine she initially fought against, but then got off on taking complete control of. Her voice feels stronger, her lyrics more biting, the meaning of each song more acidically palpable. The irony of Pills, a song about drug addiction sung as a nursery rhyme, and the relentless heartbreak of Hang On Me, a song that is almost deceiving as an album opener as it feels personal and necessary for the artist. New York is the best raw ballad of actual life and love in this town since LCD sung it their way. (ok, and I’m going to throw it in here… Ryan Adams too.) She herself was cast at times in a different (spot)light this year, as the object of affection (or destruction?) of Kristen Stewart and Cara Delevingne, and appearing in cheesy photographs on Taylor Swift’s Instagram, and perhaps lost a bit of control of her own mystery that way. However, Annie continues to flawlessly negate any norms or expectations. In the title track, the line “I can’t turn off what turns me on,” is an indirect response or explanation of slap-in-the-face that once again proves that her sound and her soul and her every move still turn us on, and we won’t turn it off.
LCD Soundsystem, American Dream
Mondo Cozmo, Plastic Soul
Perfume Genius, No Shape
Bleachers, Gone Now