Following up 2016’s HOPELESSNESS, art pop songstress Anohni has returned with a new EP for a new year. Despite her success with her debut solo album, Paradise does not seem to follow in HOPELESSNESS’ footsteps. Rather, this latest project is dreary even at a length of only twenty minutes, with a couple of sharp cuts, but largely forgettable filler.
Opener In My Dreams is not a great start. It’s a slow, moody yet uninteresting piece of ambient pop that is as unexciting as it is uninventive. The track goes nowhere, and Anohni’s deep hums do nothing for anyone’s eardrums – it’s not unbearable, but even at only three minutes it seems to drag on and on. Following title track Paradise picks up the pace, putting Anohni in the reins of a more conventional electropop track. Even with Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never on production duties, Paradise still manages to be nowhere near as interesting as anything on HOPELESSNESS. It’s not an awful song, and it’s still a cut above most electropop tracks, but it’s the kind of moment where Anohni’s operatic vocal duties fail to intertwine with the instrumentation.
Jesus Will Kill You is not just this EP’s strongest track, but one of Anohni’s strongest releases yet. It’s eclectic and bombastic, in a very noisy and full sort of way. Wailing wind instruments and a heavy underlying drum groove come together with Anohni’s croons and a booming bassline, resulting in a track that’s consistently satisfying. And Anohni’s pained political lyrics are so distorted and warped, only adding to the energy of this track. So much is going on – almost overwhelming at points, but not enough to turn away listeners from this gem of experimental pop.
The gospel-influenced You Are My Enemy falls short of the momentum built on the previous track, slowing right down in pace and ideas. The first half of this track is dull and completely forgettable, but in its final moments it finally seems to go somewhere – only to end just as quickly as it started to get interesting. Anohni’s vocal performance is definitely showcased on this track, but musically, captivating ideas are nowhere to be found.
Ricochet sees Anohni return to another electropop style thing like on title track Paradise, but once again she falls into the trap of repetitive ideas and even more repetitive lyrics. This EP’s best moments are when Anohni has something to say, almost as if her activism brings out music to match. Final track She Doesn’t Mourn Her Loss seems to adhere to that philosophy, a melancholy and mournful closer full of both lament and hope. It’s a minimal and moody finale, with a suite of strings perfectly complementing Anohni’s pained vocals. In its very final moments, the EP closes with a confronting and evocative piece of poetry, directly addressing audiences with a message of modern distress.
Anohni’s latest EP may not be another HOPELESSNESS, but it can’t be discounted altogether. Despite plenty of uninteresting moments and drawn out dreariness, at least a couple of Paradise’s more experimental and politically important cuts are worth the listen.