|Really big picture of a really big picture? Picception|
Does it count as a “I told you so” if I never actually told you so? I remember it was about a year ago, I was listening to some jams when I came across the group Autre Ne Veut. Silly French name aside, I liked their single Sweetheart, it was electronic dance sure, but there was a little something off about it too. Its penchant for indie vocals perhaps, the weird beats, the single’s cover (which was a very close up picture of a certain female reproductive organ); the song felt like it was one step away from being totally classless. But somehow it stopped short of crossing that line, hanging on the precipice, edgy but good. So I decided to write about it sure, but now it turns out I never actually did. And a year later Autre Ne Veut’s new album is out, it’s a huge success, Im sitting here thinking “I told you so”. Well sort of.
The appeal of Anxiety, the new record in question is immediately apparent. The band they perhaps most remind me of on an aesthetic level is probably Liars. I don’t mean that Autre Ne Veut is making stripped down rock, or that Liars is out pushing their pseudo R&B again, what I mean is that both artists are just that, artists, and you get the real sense that they are not making their music for us the listener. While some people will find that understandingly off putting, something like Anxiety makes for a good listen, and will certainly start a conversation whether you like the music or not.
There is an obvious evolution that has occurred since Autre Ne Veut’s self titled debut. Its not just that the songs are better, Anxiety just makes much more sense in the context of 2013. The record is two things, neo-R&B mixed with pop ambient electronics, two scenes that burst apart last year thanks to acts like Frank Ocean, the Weeknd, Slick Mahoney, Grimes, and Purity Ring. The time was right for a mixing of those two genres and its not like R&B is totally foreign to electronic noises. It just makes so much sense here in 2013 that an act like Autre Ne Veut could succeed and receive acclaim. Not to mention that the songs themselves are good. The singer is far better than he needs to be to make those songs work, but at the same time the vocals really breath passion into otherwise humdrum songs about breakups and the lot.
Meanwhile in the beat department, interns and bloggers alike, present company included must really be fumbling for words to describe what those beats sound like. Minimal? Pop? Wub-Wub-Wubbily? All of those things is probably the answer, but it doesn’t make a difference what we call it. So under what is perhaps a white flag of surrender, let’s just call Anxiety electronic and leave it at that. With that said it is pretty good electronic music. It accents the singer’s vocals pretty well, and offers a few jarring moments that break up the action when needed. Overall they add a sense of uneasiness to the record, anxiety becomes more than a name, but a feeling that the album conveys as well. This ties into the artwork too, two men holding an empty frame. The frame originally was supposed to have a copy of The Scream in it, but for unknown reasons The Scream was removed. Where they legal reasons, or is Autre Ne Veut trying to say something about the nature of twenty first century art? It doesn’t matter. What does is that Anxiety is a damn good record, and its worth a listen at the very least.