Anthony - Neu York

By margaret

Anthony - Neu York
Secret Crush Records

Anthony - Neu YorkI'd never heard of this guy before, so I went into this record completely blind. How I came out of it, though, was at once pleasantly surprised and a little confused. But I like this guy. Anthony Reynolds is the frontman for UK groups Jack and Jacques, of whom I have only vaguely heard, and just based on this solo project, I expect to hear a lot more from him from now on.

The opening track of Neu York, "I Love My Radio (on)," is a sweeping, delicious track that provokes images of summer trips and landscapes speeding by your window. Slightly new wave in feel and fully embracing electronica enhancements, I'm certain that this song is going to end up on my next road trip CD. This is followed by the extremely radio-ready "Lush Life," which if anyone can tell me why I'm not hearing this song everywhere, I'll give them a cookie. Love the line "We're too beautiful to die."
At this point, I'm feeling comfortable and think I have a good grip on what this record will be about, but I soon find out that my notions of comfort are about to be shaken up a bit. Neu York suddenly takes a journey into another world where things are a little more antiseptic on the surface.

"Good Times" is basically just Anthony and his guitar in the beginning; then it builds slightly, adding instrumentation and electronic noises, creating an alien landscape that reminds me of what Radiohead did with the quieter songs on their opus OK Computer...a sort of a lonely out in deep, dark space ambiance. And then, before you've noticed, the 5:13 of the song has crept by you.

"Dear Melvyn" strikes me as being fairly autobiographical, and like many semi-spoken word songs, it comes off as awkward and a little too esoteric for my taste. "Love to Loved (Sweetness and Light)" sounds like Love & Rockets and gets us momentarily back to the catchy, poppy sound that started off the album. And then we take a strange turn back to a Blade Runner-esque world with "I Sit With the Smokers." This mood is continued with songs like "2000 Miles (Boxing Day Blues)" and "If July Were a Kingdom," which are intensely melancholy and futuristic.

At the core of this record, however, is careful songwriting navigating many different genres and sounds. Anthony has managed to create songs that cover the the spectrum of artistic expression: Pure ambient, almost folkish singer/songwriter, vapid (and not-so-vapid) pop, metallic visionary and even channeling a little Smiths in "Prelude to...." While Anthony makes the most of electronics, he doesn't rely on them to do the work for him, nor does he throw them in his songs arbitrarily.

One suggestion I might have had, had I been asked, is that perhaps these 14 songs should have been released on two albums because there really do seem to be two distinct tones. I just get settled in at the beginning of the record, comfortable in my expectation of slightly challenging, poppy songs (which is, by the way, not a criticism at all), and then suddenly I'm floating out in the far reaches of the universe alone and wishing there was someone to talk to.

I can't really wrap my head around the dichotomy on Neu York, but I think maybe that this is the point. "Neu York," you know, not "New York"? It begins safely, with the known, and progresses to the slightly foreign and strange, slightly cold and impersonal. Maybe what Anthony is trying to tell us in his futuristic vision is that the landscape passing by outside our window is really the passing of time and our notion of what the world can become.