Autre Ne Veut Anxiety on LP
Anxiety (2013) is the full-length follow up to Autre Ne Veut's self-titled debut (2010) which was for many the definitive post-millennial failure pop statement outside of time and style. Autre Ne Veut rivaled other lovelorn "missteps" such as Marvin Gaye's Here My Dear and Big Star's Sister Lovers. If you didn't hear the connection, you weren't listening closely enough. Be that as it may, ANV brazenly decided to make it easier for listeners with his post-canonical return. No longer playing the role of pauper or king, Anxiety is simply his high definition arrival. Anxiety is in some sense Arthur Ashin closing a chapter on his adolescence through song-form depictions of his own relationship struggles and ecstasies.
There are club bangers on Anxiety, for sure; "Counting" a cybernetic sea shanty tips its hat to Timbaland, and opening track "Play By Play" rolls out like a slowly evolving Top 40 operetta with nods to Dr. Luke and Patti LaBelle in equal measure. But when experienced as a whole, there is an unfolding sense of confession to Anxiety. Like a collection of photographs, each featuring our anti-hero surrounded by lovers, friends, and family and, ultimately, the world, Ashin himself is peripheral to the action. He is always a little too aware of the joke, laughing at the wrong time. The influences on Anxiety range from David Byrne to Lee "Scratch" Perry, Laurie Anderson and Annie Lennox to Katy Perry and Rihanna.
But Arthur's primary influence – and the influence most evident in his music - is of karaoke - the solitary person singing along with their favorite song. In karaoke we get to be someone bigger than who we usually are. When we sing karaoke or when we sing in the shower, we get to be gods; gods with bars of soap, gods with plastic cups in our hands.