No this isn’t a post about the merits (or otherwise) of Owen Smith’s voting record. This is to acknowledge the achievement of Anohni in bringing us a relevant, uncompromising musical experience in her album Hopelessness.
As the title suggests, it’s not a record that offers much in the way of solutions. It’s more of a warning that needs heeding; that we can’t continue treating each other and our planet the way that we’re doing, without dire consequences.
The songs don’t pull any punches – the first three tracks deal with warfare (Drone Bomb Me), environmental catastrophe (4 Degrees), and state snooping (Watch Me), and they set the tone for a record, unflinching in its directness. Things are getting serious so why beat around the bush with analogies when you can tackle the issues head on?
Anohni, formely known as Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons fame), cleverly delivers the songs through various personas such as a child victim of drone strikes in ‘Drone Bomb Me’, or the convicted felon on death row in ‘Execution’. The first person narratives are far more dramatically impactful than a bystander’s viewpoint would have been.
Perhaps ‘4 Degrees‘ offers us the most powerfully anthemic song on the album. The title alluding to the Celsius rise scientists have predicted the earth’s temperature will go up by due to climate change this century; a rise that would have catastrophic consequences for our very existence on planet earth. It’s a warning we, like the song’s dismissive protagonist who shrugs if off with “It’s only 4 degrees”, seem to be taking way too lightly.
The environmental theme is also played out well in ‘Why Did You Separate Me From the Earth’ which seems to lament the loss of what early ecologists referred to “everything being connected”, a mantra we’d do well to return to.
It may be difficult to listen to at times, but then the truth often can be. Presumably this was meant to be a challenging political record, and for that it scores a direct hit.