Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety
Released: February 24, 2013
Label: Software Recording Co., Mexican Summer
Producer: Arthur Ashin
Genre: Contemporary R&B, Electronic, Post-Dubstep
01 Play by Play
04 Ego Free Sex Free
05 A Lie
07 Gonna Die
08 Don’t Ever Look Back
09 I Wann Dance With Somebody
10 World War
When the album cover was first showcased the cover consisted of a replication of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. You can’t say he didn’t warn you. Arthur Ashin loses tensions and himself in exasperated screams and mouth dropping falsettos in his exceedingly moving second LP Anxiety.
You can tell he’s been busy. The album reeks of extremely hard work and dedication. While in comparison with his previous stuff this is by far his most accessible work but it can call itself his masterpiece (until now). It resonates a touch o dissonance, whether its from the vivid and eerie discomfort of the saxes from his yearning yet morbid “Counting”; or the hair-metal guitars shouting in his equally shouting “Don’t Ever Look Back”; or as “Play by Play“‘s massive chorus builds up the audience for one of the best albums of 2013 so far. His melodic sense in this album feels more innovative and ready to break boundaries. His melodies here can be either hard hitting and harsh, or so warm and melodic that if you listen to it more than five times, it’ll make you want to go hug someone! Hence the title.
The opener, as we mention before, “Play by Play” has a Purple Rain-like gospel effect that destroys you and rebuilds you, juxtaposing with every harmony and crashing with every chorus. Someone might think he’s had enough of the heaviness of the album after 5 minutes. Repeating that process again in the two and a half minute song “Warning” (title is enough).
This is the kind of performance that usually embodies various hyper-emotive rock subgenre hits. That works on unhinged songs in the album like “Ego Free Sex Free” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. The latter doesn’t quote Whitney Houston, but simply catches the desire in the songs lyrics. One of the most haunting things in this album is that Ashin’s nervy vocal approach works even in the ballads! His performance is only toned down a bit on “A Lie”, “Gonna Die”, and “World War”, which by the way, just by the title you can comprehend the the kind of phenomenal sadness Arthur can create with his voice. But, here is where his touch comes in, even if they are slow-bruning ballads he makes them feel like the entire universe is crumbling upon him and in the meanwhile you, while listening to the songs.
This is not “oversinging”. It is not! It would a critical turn off and misinterpretation of his art to call it that. It is the demonstrative nature of Autre Ne Veut that puts his in the same ranks as How to Dress Well; it has as much in common with Broadway as it does with R&B; you imagine he’s drawn to this style of music because it’s a means to a kind of spiritual transcendence that most rock music isn’t particularly interested in. Thus the title Anxiety, wanting to create the kind of nervous breakdowns and anxiety that is brought on by joy, love and sex. So it’s understandable that “Ego Free Sex Free” becomes something of a mantra for Anxiety. On its surface it sounds mushy and egoey but it is soft and gentle to its core.
Anxiety is a cycle. It begins with the hyper-tensious “Play by Play” and ends with the sedated ballad “World War”. The message of “Play by Play” was “don’t ever leave me alone,” on “World War,” he pleads, “no way you’ll ever be my baby.” In between, that polarity of desire and disappointment is fully explored by Ashin’s erratic and ecstatic voice. Describing its tone doesn’t quite convey its appeal, nor does it demonstrate how much of an acquired taste it is. His glass-shattering falsetto runs and chesty bleats transform Anxiety from a great pop record into something powerfully therapeutic, more about casting off inhibitions than actually hitting those high notes.
Anxiety is an album where Ashin fearlessly reveals himself as a person and an artist and dares you to open up in the same way.
“Play by Play”:
“Counting” on Pitchfork Weekly: