Anxiety (Ladyhawke album)
|Studio album by Ladyhawke|
|Released||25 May 2012|
|Genre||Indie rock, new wave, power pop, electronic rock|
|Producer||Pip Brown, Pascal Gabriel|
|Singles from Anxiety|
Anxiety is the second studio album by New Zealand recording artist Ladyhawke, released on 25 May 2012 by Modular Recordings. It was recorded in early 2011 with long-time collaborator Pascal Gabriel, who co-wrote all tracks on the album. "Black White & Blue" was released as the album's lead single on 24 January 2012, followed by "Sunday Drive" on 9 April 2012 and "Blue Eyes" on 16 July 2012.
Background and recording
Ladyhawke first revealed plans to work on a second album in a message on her official website in May 2010. She explained the four-year gap between her self-titled debut album and Anxiety by saying, "I had no idea how exhausted I'd be after I finished touring. I was physically incapable of doing anything. I tried to start recording about a month after I finished on tour and I turned up at the studio and just fell asleep. I was like a zombie." The album was recorded in New Zealand and at Pascal Gabriel's house in the south of France in early 2011. "Working in London, I am quite bad at getting distracted, so I think it was a ploy to literally lock me away. My bedroom is right below the studio so there is no escaping. I can hear [Gabriel's] foot tapping in the morning as if to say 'wake up'", she told Stuff.co.nz.
Ladyhawke revealed that the album was propelled by the stress of writing and recording new music after two years of touring: "I love having a fire in my belly. That was something that I had because I was really scared about disappointing people, and I knew I was going to go in a different direction. I wasn't going to stick with the same vibe that I had on the first album. I was really, really excited and keen to try something new but at the same time as taking that on I knew I might be disappointing some people. Trying to do my best under those circumstances was motivating." She added that the album is called Anxiety "because every song has that sort of feeling, my mindset throughout the recording was a mixture of being so tired and just being worried the whole time. I'm a walking ball of anxiety. It completely sums up the album."
Musically, Ladyhawke stated that her second album would be "completely different album and style" from its predecessor. "It's lot more rocky. The tone of it is definitely darker. It's still poppy and fun, but I listened to a lot of guitar rock when I was writing it, stuff like Pixies, Blur, Nirvana and I've always wanted to make a guitar record. There's no synth, but there's some organ. It's more of a straight-up rock record", she told the NME. In an interview with Rolling Stone Australia, she elaborated: "I felt desperate to make a guitar record [...] It's still pop, but I don't know if other people would call it that. It's not '80s at all. I don't think it belongs to any decade. It's a mixed bag of everything I've listened to or inspired by over the years... there's elements of Bowie and Blur and the Dandy Warhols in some songs." She also described the album as "a cross between '60s and '90s guitar music".
All the artwork for Anxiety was done by Sydney-based New Zealand visual artist Sarah Larnach, who was also responsible for the artwork for Ladyhawke. "We got together to talk about the second album and the style of it and I really wanted to do something darker that was more line-drawing based and was really inspired by the Beatles' Revolver artwork. That's my favorite album cover. So Sarah brainstormed and she came up with all this amazing stuff. She just nailed it. She's so talented", Ladyhawke said.
Release and promotion
Ladyhawke premiered several songs from the album during performances at the 100 Club in London, the Phoenix Bar in Sydney and The Tote Hotel in Melbourne, including tracks such as "Vaccine", "Blue Eyes" and "Sunday Drive".
Originally scheduled to be released on 19 March 2012, Anxiety was eventually pushed back until May by Ladyhawke's label. To promote the album, Ladyhawke embarked on a twelve-date tour across the United Kingdom, which kicked off at Brighton's Komedia on 23 April 2012 and ended at London's O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on 11 May.
|Drowned in Sound||6/10|
Anxiety received generally positive to mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 64, based on 18 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Allmusic's Tim Sendra wrote, "From the powerhouse thump of the rhythm section and the tightly controlled growl of the guitars to the well-placed and never standard synths, the sound of the album is impressive." Sendra concluded, "It's a great pop record with plenty of guts and a sense of reality that is so often missing from records that sound this fun." About.com's Ben Norman called Anxiety "an excellent offering" and felt that "the songwriting yield[s] a lot of immensely catchy tunes", while noting the album's "incredible remix appeal". Camilla Pia of The Fly commented that on Anxiety, Ladyhawke "retains the sizzling electronics and soaring melodies of her first offering, but delivers them like a sultry wrong'un wracked with self doubt, battering drums and attacking every guitar she can lay her hands on." Ben Hogwood of musicOMH remarked that "[e]verything [on Anxiety] is much more 'in the room' than the breezy, wide open spaces she favoured for the likes of 'Paris Is Burning' and 'My Delirium'. The vocals have more of an attitude, too." CMJ's Brandon Specktor praised the album as a "solid Ladyhawke winner", stating it is "pop that actually pops—a tight string of hooky riffs, pulse-setting percussion and crowd-commanding vocals balanced on basslines sturdy enough for Pip to hang her flannels from." Rolling Stone's Jody Rosen dubbed Anxiety "a buzzsaw-sharp pop-rock album, full of hard-charging hooks, with one foot toe-tapping in 1978 and the other planted firmly in 2012."
BBC Music reviewer Nick Levine described the album as "pretty cracking" and wrote it is "as tight and catchy as a baseball mitt". Jeff Leven of Paste magazine critiqued that "[t]he problem with Anxiety is that it features some of the same trappings as her earlier work without the same strength of songcraft." He continued, "While Anxiety is not a trainwreck, it's a missed opportunity given the strength of her foundation." Ailbhe Malone of the NME wrote that while Ladyhawke's debut album sounded "fresh", "[t]here's nothing on Anxiety so arrestingly new or comfortably familiar." In a review for The New Zealand Herald, Scott Kara opined that compared to Ladyhawke, Anxiety is "louder and more in-your-face, with guitar and synth of many different varieties [...] to the fore. But curiously it's more ineffectual, the songs less memorable, and at 36 minutes it seems over all too quickly with the monotonous, almost aimless finale 'Gone Gone Gone'." Nevertheless, Kara referred to songs like "Sunday Drive", "Black White & Blue" and "The Quick & the Dead" as "great". David Edwards of Drowned in Sound commented that the album "sounds great" and viewed it as "a record that never quite seems comfortable in its own skin... with that generally being meant in positive terms. It's jittery, nervous, and full of self-doubt and dilemma. But all underpinned by a swirling decadence and the tinge of chemical aplomb remaining amongst the morning-after blues." The Guardian's Tim Jonze faulted Anxiety for its Britpop influences and found that "the songs aren't strong enough to make it feel vibrant", noting that "[o]nly the chugging 'Cellophane' captures the giddy, filmic qualities of Ladyhawke's early songs". Similarly, Consequence of Sound's Dan Caffrey expressed that the album's "poppy static lures one in right away, but the pulse grows tiresome due to its refusal to change", adding that it "works best when Brown steps out of her comfort zone and displays genuine vulnerability", especially on "Cellophane". Matt James of PopMatters panned the album as "slightly rubbish" and concluded, "If this is Ladyhawke trying to find herself, she's tragically lost sight of what made her amazing in the first place."
|1.||"Girl Like Me"||2:55|
|3.||"Black White & Blue"||3:54|
|7.||"The Quick & the Dead"||3:48|
|10.||"Gone Gone Gone"||3:53|
|11.||"Human" (CD hidden track and iTunes bonus track)||3:11|
Credits for Anxiety adapted from album liner notes.
- Pip Brown – vocals, art direction, bass guitar, drums, guitar, keyboards, Omnichord, producer
- Simon Davey – mastering
- Pascal Gabriel – engineer, keyboards, mixing, producer, programming
- Stanley Gabriel – engineer, programming
- Sarah Larnach – art direction, artwork
- D. Sardy – mixing
|Australian Albums Chart||17|
|Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)||134|
|New Zealand Albums Chart||12|
|UK Albums Chart||36|
|US Heatseekers Albums||12|
|Australia||25 May 2012||Modular Recordings|
|Poland||29 May 2012|
|United States||Casablanca Records|
|United Kingdom||4 June 2012||Island Records|
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