Album review submitted by Philip Lickley.
Ladyhawke – Anxiety
Four years ago musician Pip Brown recorded an eponymous album under her stage name of Ladyhawke. With twelve tracks including ‘Magic’, ‘My Delerium’, ‘Paris is Burning’ and ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ it was an excellent, fun album with some great stand-out tunes that took me by surprise. So, four years later, when her follow up came on the list of upcoming new releases it was a natural buy for me. Sadly, however, the long gap has not served her well and her second album is not the sophomore release I would have hoped for. It’s not a bad album just a little bit average compared to the high expectations I had.
Coming in at a respectable forty minutes, Anxiety opens with ‘Girl Like Me’ – which showcases a grittier sound for Ladyhawke with a well made mix of guitar and synth and Brown’s laid back, sombre vocals. Very much in the vein of the Cardigans in sound it builds its appeal from the use of repetition of the words in the title and is a reasonable opening for the album.
Second track ‘Sunday Drive’ builds from the first with a perkier verse and becomes a stronger song as the chorus establishes itself around a guitar solo, and the chorus itself is well written – but as a second single it’s no ‘Paris is Burning’.
‘Black, White and Blue’ is a rockier number, reflecting the darker nature of the album with a fun chorus, again built around building repetition, and an enjoyable synth ending that sounds very much like the peak of her first album.
‘Vaccine’ is built around an intriguing downbeat but leads to the poppiest and most stand out chorus so far thanks to the synth and drum combination, continuing the Cardigans style punctuating the album.
‘Blue Eyes’ takes us up to the half way point and is destined to be a live favourite due to its numerous ‘na na’ sections and soon finds its pace to become an entertaining guitar-led pop-track and the best on the album, with the best hooks and most memorable sections.
Entering the second half of the album and ‘Vanity’ is a well-produced song built around the title word and plays well on that, but this strength does eventually become its weakness as the word becomes tired, but the use of a musical bridge and a stripped-out break down livens things up and keeps the track bubbling along.
‘The Quick and the Dead’ is another dark song and a chorus built around repetition with a marching, appropriate zombie-like beat. It’s a song that is aurally interesting with subtle nods towards Pink Floyd but it’s lacking something to take it to the next level.
The title track follows and it’s a middle of the road tune once more constructed around the idea of repetition but the music is more layered than on her first album.
‘Cellophane’ is a slower ballad with a throbbing build-up and some lighters-out elements building up to be one of the strongest songs on the album, and advertised closer ‘Gone Gone Gone’ is a speedy, up-tempo tune and one of the best on the album with a well composed chorus that fits in with the overall style of the album, bringing the album to a positive close, save for secret track ‘Human’ bolted onto the end, a lively sfx-laden song that rounds the album off nicely with a pleasant enough ending.
Anxiety is not a terrible album and there are several enjoyable tracks, but there’s nothing that stands out and declares war on your eardrums like on the first album. Musically more adept than her self-titled debut it shows progression as an artist but doesn’t really have the hooks and concepts to back it up; Anxiety never feels like it gets going or really has the bubbly energy of her first album. I’d suggest, if you haven’t already, picking up her surprising debut and try that first, giving this a buzz afterwards.
Not a fail of a follow-up but I expected more.