Review: Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety

Autre Ne Veut
Need more awesome? Listen to our FAVORITE SONGS OF 2014. Make sure you don't miss any tunes: FOLLOW US ON TWITTER.

words by JEAN-LUC MARSH


“Play By Play”

In a recent interview, Arthur Ashin, the man behind the avant-pop, R&B bending Autre Ne Veut remarked, “I like the idea of being able to fuck with expectations, and for the music to be a Rorschach test, in a way.” This notion of the ability of music to mold to our interpretations and flourish within the boundaries of our mind, is a prominent feature of Ashin’s second full-length effort as Autre Ne Veut, the sterling and disorienting Anxiety.


“Counting”

Opening track, “Play by Play,” begins with a series of electronic flourishes, the equivalent of pulling back a curtain of beads, and entering into the room that lies beyond. This room seems small at first, a closet with only Ashin’s voice and a rhythmic ringing in the distance. “I don’t wanna be there tonight / you make me low / you make me crawl / and make me harder,” croons Ashin in the sonic calm before the storm. The lyric seems to point to an indictment of a former lover, one that he realizes he is better off without. However, as with nearly all of Anxiety, nothing is what it seems. Over the course of this five minute opus, the track’s simplistic origins expand into a cacophony of disparate sounds encompassing synthesizers, church bells, and a female voice that intertwines with Ashin’s and implores him to never leave her. Somehow, all the sounds coagulate into an addictive melody, and she gets the last word, leaving the prospect of reconciliation lingering.

More immediate than the previous song, “Counting” is saturated with sonic odds-and-ends ranging from tribal shouts and creaking doors, to rapid-fire synths. The only thread holding this dissonant patchwork of sounds together is Ashin’s airy, vulnerable falsetto. “I’m counting on the idea that you’ll stay,” he wails, in what seems like an attempt to prevent a lover from leaving. However, in one of the many twists within Anxiety, Ashin revealed that the song is much deeper, instead recounting his fear of losing his grandmother.

Fourth track, “Ego Free, Sex Free,” contains a chorus in which Ashin sings “Ego free, sex free / I can’t feel my body moving / Ego free, sex free / I can’t see your body, baby” over climaxing synthesizers and electric guitars, imbuing the track with a rhythmic magnetism that builds to create the most exhilarating moment on Anxiety. The meaning of the lyrics is a riddle, but one fundamental fact is clear, it feels good.

Review: Autre Ne Veut   <i>Anxiety</i>
However, any musical momentum built up on “Ego Free, Sex Free,” evaporates on “A Lie,” the most restrained track on Anxiety utilizing little more than a guitar and falsetto. Despite being a welcome transition from the maximalist instrumentation of the first four tracks, it feels anticlimactic, wasting the energy built up on the previous track. “Gonna Die” is another slow jam that finds Ashin at his most frank and fatalistic. Over a funerary organ, he throws the strongest lyrical punch on Anxiety, crying “Oh I’m gonna die / and I’m feeling more accurately now than I have for a while.”

Ironically, Anxiety sounds lifeless after “Gonna Die.” The final three tracks blend into a miasma of falsetto and discordant instrumentation that passes by with little fanfare. Hopes are dashed when penultimate track “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is not a Whitney Houston cover (which, in my opinion, Autre Ne Veut would have absolutely killed), but rather more of the same, this time over post-apocalyptic noises that could have made a cameo in something from Clams Casino. The final third of Anxiety is not necessarily bad; it simply lacks the luster to keep the listener’s attention.

Anxiety is an album littered with opuses. Each is a self-contained universe encapsulating whichever emotion it is assigned. No track has a clear meaning, and Anxiety truly does take on the form of a Rorschach test, becoming whatever the listener views it as. Between its heavy instrumentation and heavenly falsetto, it could be an ode to a lover or a resignation to heartbreak. From this versatility originates the power of Anxiety. It grows beyond its deeply emotional roots, to become whatever you want it to be. [B+]

Find it at:

Amazon | InSound | eMusicReview: Autre Ne Veut   <i>Anxiety</i>

Stream it at: Pitchfork Advance

What did you think?
 51  5  4  4
Robyn Royksopp Do It Again
Music

Here is another track from Robyn and Röyksopp’s mini-album, Do It Again. Late last night…

READ MORE
robyn
Music

At the end of next month, Robyn and Röyksopp will release a collaborative EP called…

READ MORE
SZA Z
Reviews

April 23, 2014 · 29 reactions

Review: SZA, Z

TDE, known for launching the careers of Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q, found their first female signee in SZA. Does her debut, Z, deliver?

READ MORE
Afghan Whigs Do To The Beast
Reviews

It brings nobody pleasure to announce that Do to the Beast, the new one from The Afghan Whigs, is indeed a comeback in every sense of the word.

READ MORE
coldplay
Videos

Stopping by at BBC Radio 1 for an in-studio session, Coldplay shared yet another track…

READ MORE
Torres
Music

Torres has performed a wonderful new song for Philadelphia non-profit Weathervane Music‘s Shaking Through web…

READ MORE
Lily Allen Sheezus
Music

After much teasing and controversy, here is Lily Allen’s “Sheezus,” the brazen, perfectly-named title track…

READ MORE
BOOTS
Music

Beyoncé owes a lot of what made her surprise album special to Boots, and now she’s returned the favor.

READ MORE
Lykke Li I Never Learn
Music

Lykke Li has recruited A$AP Rocky for a new, bass-heavy version of her I Never…

READ MORE