Last I Heard
I Am A Very Rude Person
Not The News
When it comes to iconic figures in music, few come close to that of Thom Yorke. The front-man of Radiohead is an engimatic, well-respected artist that continues to blur the line between sonic boundaries and politically charged or societal narratives. His latest solo effort, ANIMA, is an emotionally charged descent into dystopian madness, peppering the album with enough light bites of hope to balance out the themes explored.
The album opens strongly with Traffic. Clutching tightly to a simple synth-driven bassline, this 5 minute track really sets the foundation for what follows, as Thom descends into the dominating, minor chord-driven sounds of Last I Heard. After these two tracks, ANIMA really swings like a pendulum between two differing styles of Alternate music. On the one hand, there’s a sobering, vocal-driven style that’s designed to get you thinking, while other times the album swings across to melodic basslines that you can’t help but nod your head and groove to.
Although the album has a fair few memorable tracks, personal favourites here include Dawn Chorus, I Am A Very Rude Person and Not The News. It’s worth noting too that the blend between tracks is perfectly executed here, with Not The News seamlessly shifting into The Axe with such precision, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the same record.
Given the short film appetiser Netflix released earlier today of the same name, ANIMA is an album that expands and challenges the ideas presented there. At times, the album comes across as rustic, with plenty of simple basslines laid over the vocals, oftentimes drowning out Thom’s voice. Strangely, the album actually works better this way, with the discordant presentation of the tracks playing on the emotions this somehow manages to conjure so strongly.
As a personal gripe, I do feel Impossible Knots stands out for the wrong reasons, coming across as a little too funky and upbeat. On it’s own, the track is fine but against everything else, it feels jarring. I understand it’s used here as a respite from the gloominess inherent with much of the album but the track just feels tonally at odds with everything else presented.
Much like the short film of the same name, ANIMA is a challenging album, one designed to get you thinking and conjure up your own interpretations. It’s certainly an audibly pleasing album though, boasting a lot of emotion that radiates throughout its 45 minute run-time. With a unique style, thought provoking lyrics and a consistent vibe for much of its run-time, ANIMA is a bleak trip into dystopian madness, one well worth taking.
Verdict - 8/10