It’s hard for me to find inspiration these days. Between summer blowing chilly goodbye kisses, all kinds of monetary annoyances and just this never-ending inexplicable tiredness clinging to body and brain, I need something REALLY inspiring, a punch-in-the-nose, a flashlight-straight-to-the-eye kind of inspiring. I turned down a couple of submitted albums, even though they weren’t bad, they just failed to wake me up from this change of seasons languidness. Luckily, there are music geniuses out there capable of just that. Anomie Belle‘s new release The Crush is both a great illustration to this emotionally exhausting time of the year and a great remedy for it. What I admire about Anomie Belle (among many other things) is that she openly embraces being associated with trip-hop, and trip-hop fans will listen to The Crush and nod their trip-hop heads and think “yeah, this is is totally trip-hop”. But at the same time her music is so complex and versatile that people not even familiar with the term ‘trip-hop’ will enjoy it just because it is (ready for it?) good music. Perhaps the strangest and most wonderful thing about nearly every song on The Crush is that if you would be cruel enough to remove one of the many elements – vocals, electronic bits and pieces or live instrumental parts – the remaining components would still make a damn good track! But it’s exactly that abundance of elements and nuances, composed, layered and arranged smartly but never predictably, that makes The Crush so great. Maybe ‘abundance’ isn’t the right word, for it implies over-fullness, but there’s no excess weight on the record, everything is right where it’s needed and the only abundance here is of the emotion that every track emanates. In fact, on certain tracks, like the gorgeous “Picture Perfect”, where the vocal duo of Anomie Belle and Jon Auer (The Posies, Big Star) is so powerful that the surrounding elements are cleverly trimmed down to the framing beat, dreamy background melody and the impactful string finale. “Mosquito In The Closet”, on the other hand, is an intense audio-attack with strings galore (from droning swarm-like hum to bites of pizzicato) and (something that sounded like to my amateur ear) cymbals. Even the shorter tracks manage to carry an immense amount of energy, like the just over two minutes long “Lost Horizon” that starts out quiet but steadily escalates into cascading waves of powerful sound. “Machine” (featuring another talented guest vocalist – Mr. Lif, who had worked with Anomie Belle before) creates an image of an intelligent steam-punk-meets-cyber-punk apparatus driven by chugging beat and looping piano rhythm program, with Mr. Lif as the confident operator and Anomie Belle‘s echoing vocals as “ghost in the machine”. Another exceptional quality of The Crush is that is able to preserve its unique style while inserting those always welcome “inspired by” moments that are like little sparks igniting great memories from music history. For instance, both “Lavender Days” and “Phantom” reminded me of different parts of Massive Attack‘s discography without ripping off or trying to imitate any of them. Perhaps the only track that left me a bit confused was “It’s A Crush” that almost sounds like a remix of an Anomie Belle song by some British breakbeat DJ – still a great track and in line with the album’s style and atmosphere, I guess it just left me wanting more (of Anomie Belle‘s singing mainly). I can go on forever, trying to find explanation for why is “Inky Drips” is so catchy, or how “Bodies Offering” (gloriously) enters the “nu soul” territory, but I will let you make your own fun discoveries, and there will be many of those as you listen to The Crush – the last great release of the summer, the first fantastic release of the fall.
R.I.Y.L. Massive Attack – “Teardrop”, Lamb, bonfires
personal favs: “Mosquito In The Closet”, “Machine” (feat. Mr. Lif), “Inky Drips”