Saturday, January 17, 2009

the crying light by antony and the johnsons

I'll be honest. I started and restarted this review several times before coming to an obvious conclusion: Antony and the Johnsons are incredibly difficult to write about. And they aren't making it any easier with their new album The Crying Light (out 1/20).

If you've ever encountered Antony Hegarty, you know exactly what to expect. (If not, pick up last year's Another World EP and report back for further instruction.) No, expectations vs. delivery aren't what's blocking this from being a full-fledged review. Antony's bizarre yet vulnerable voice continues to float and dance over lush orchestration - I particularly like the reoccurring oboe and clarinet motif. It's a beautiful, cabaret-noir album, and (as usual) more than a bit heartbreaking. Musical evolution is overrated when no-one else serves it up quite like this.

Maybe it's difficult because this time around, Antony has tackled an incredibly universal topic - the health of our own world. And, judging by the album's first single, "Another World," (or alternately, watching the evening news) it ain't pretty. As a call to social responsibility, lines like I'll miss the animals / I need another world are a painful reminder of what we stand to lose. It's a spellbinding call for awakening, enlightenment and in "Daylight and the Sun," mourning for light both literal and metaphorical.

Ultimately though, the difficultly lies in the gestalt created by word, voice, and orchestration. (Well, that along with my general inability to use grown-up words when awed.) Clearly this is one of those terrible, rare cases when, despite my urge to throw a dog-eared thesaurus worth of words at the blog. You're much better off just taking a listen. Do so in wonder while I slink away at my inability to convey my own awe.

mp3: "Another World" by Antony and the Johnsons

1 comment:

Greg said...

Definitely a hard one to review. Well done. And you may have just talked me into buying it.