Hopelessness is the first album from independent musician Anohni, who was previously known as Antony Hegarty of the pop group Antony and the Johnsons. It’s an album that’s heavily political, but it is also intensely beautiful.
The songs here could be directly transposed into a hit list of social activism campaigns: drone bombings (‘Drone Bomb Me’), genocide (‘Execution’), child protection (‘Watch Me’), the destruction of animals from global warming (‘4 Degrees’) and our mistreatment of the planet in general (‘Why Did You Separate Me from the Earth?’) are just some of the subjects Anohni muses about. Her androgynous voice brings singers such as Boy George and Benjamin Clementine to mind. There’s a surreal beauty to her pained cries, made more unusual by the droning electronic loops and sombre organ tones (‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’) that back them up.
Anohni’s didactic music isn’t for everyone. And It’s hard to think of an album this year with cold truths that make it as gloomy as Hopelessness. But despite the seriousness in its subtext, there is a haunting beauty to it that resonates strongly. Her boldness and honesty is something to celebrate at a time when people would rather engage in numerous distractions than face our world’s mounting problems.
Hopelessness is out now on Rough Trade Records.
Image: Rough Trade Records